11.17.2013 - 11.17.2013
As I write this I am sitting in the gardens of my hotel, a gentle rain is falling and I am writing under a table umbrella. It is very peaceful and I am enjoying my first day off since I arrived. Over the past three days Al and I have had the privilege of meeting with a number of women who are doing things they only imagined just a couple of years ago. My spirit has been strengthened by contact with these ladies and once again I am reminded that if the barriers that prevent people from reaching their goals are removed (mostly by education and support) the human spirit is unstoppable. How often do we look at others and judge them instead of taking time to learn about their challenges and trying to help them overcome them.
For far too long people with good intentions have come from first world countries with money and ideas and tried to impose their wills on how to improve the lives of people in developing countries. Over four trillion dollars have been spent since World War II and the overall results have been less than impressive. The idea of the table banking that we have now observed is Kenyans helping Kenyans to help themselves. All the language, cultural and tribal issues here disappear when local people are running the programs rather than the usual model of whites directing blacks. I believe that the role of ABW here is to spread word of the working model and provide some financing for the long term loans.
Follow with me on the progression of one woman who was living virtually hand to mouth one day at a time for many years. She joined the group and received training to start her business. With her first loan she bought a tray of 30 eggs for $300 shillings, boiled them and sold them individually for $600 shillings seeing a profit of $300 shillings. She repeated this for twenty days of the month realizing a profit of $6,000 shillings for the month. Before she joined the group she had never thought of buying something to sell. She repaid her loan at the end of the month plus interest and deposited $4,000 shillings into the bank. She can borrow up to two times the amount of cash she has on deposit, so she borrows $8,000 shillings, buys more eggs, builds a chicken coop and buys two hens and a rooster and enough feed for the month. She sells eggs on every day of this month and recovers enough to repay her entire loan . . . but now she has some assets. She repeats her same process again, sells eggs and invests in more feed and three more hens. Soon she is selling eggs that her own hens are producing, she is also hatching some of the eggs to now have her own chicks. In another month she is selling eggs and chicks and is now ready to branch into selling cereals and rice. Each time she needs more capital she receives another loan and receives some more business training, all the while proving she can repay her loans. Her health is improving as she and her family are eating better and she sleeps better at night as her nightly money worries are going away. She now has a track record of many months of borrowing and repaying her loans on time and now has the option of applying for a larger long term loan of up to $30,000 shillings to be repaid over the next 24 months. She uses this money to expand her business and begin wholesaling eggs to stores and other sellers.
This story is being repeated over and over in this and other business models by the 3,400 members of this table bank. All of this change came about as a result of access to small amounts of capital and training.
Kenyans helping Kenyans to help themselves.