Grace Kasandi Injene, Director, Agano Development Centre
Plaque outside Agano Development Centre
We set up the review, decision making and follow up process to enable the most success. There are four of us: Principal Grace who knows the children and their families, Benson who not only drives but also does ground work for ABW and understands the customs and small business side of things here, Martin who is a teacher at the school and who will work with the children and their parents on having proper record keeping and myself. We have decided that each loan will be granted a three month grace period before they have to start repaying the loan, we believe this grace period will allow each business to get established and generate some cash flow and then repayment of the loan with be one third in the fourth and fifth months with the last portion of the loan and the interest paid back on the sixth month. As repayments are made in the fourth month the money will be put to use providing a loan for the next best business plan. We all believe that early success is vital for this program to succeed and grow. Two important criteria for an applicant to be successful are that they must show that their business can be profitable from the start and sustainable in the long run and that the child and their family are quality people committed to the success of the business. One final note is that if two business plans and children are comparable, we will choose the child with the greater need.
There were almost forty plans submitted this morning and I was surprised and happy that more than half showed an understanding for writing the plan and then articulating their action plans to us in an interview. Please remember these are 13 and 14 year olds. A number of the children based their plans on raising rabbits, ducks or chickens and we discarded all of them based that an illness could wipe out their business in very short order...too high risk. Five children submitted plans regarding making jewellery, beads and bracelets and we saw some of their handiwork and it was good but as we talked to them we came to understand that it would involve other businesses giving them the materials and then paying them only 3 shillings for each piece. We explained to them that this was not really a business, just poor pay for busy work that others would benefit from. the real problem is that these kids did not have any idea how or where to sell their products. We rejected them however Grace felt she could find out where these items could be sold and she will work with the kids to re formulate their plans to be reflective of a real business and they would get consideration at a later date. The fact is that they could make some money when the end of the equation is found. There we some other good ideas like pleating hair, which is very big here, selling used bed sheets and blankets which received a lot of our consideration and selling clothes bought In a bale and resold...this also came very close and may make the next cut. This entire culling process was very hard and reminded me of cutting players when I was coaching hockey...so many are close but only the very best are chosen.
Group of Successful Candidates
So the three kids we choose submitted the following plans. Oliver submitted a plan to sell eggs. The idea is to buy a tray of 30 eggs for 300 shillings and then boil them and sell them individually for 15 shillings each and when the cost of charcoal for cooking is deducted there remains a profit of 90 shillings per tray and he can easily sell two trays each day deriving a profit of 180 shillings per day. Simple, easy and a high demand here. Oliver also plans to expand his saleable items as his success grows. The boy and his plan are good and he is in for the small amount of $1,100.00 shillings.
Josiah came in and just literally blew us away. His plan is to buy two shavers and two chairs and have his own barber shop. He plans to hire his brother and they will work the shop together...again this is a service that is high demand here. Benson asked him who would work the shop when he is in school and he said he would train someone and then have them work until his school day is over. His proposal included shaving adult hair for 50 shillings and when he was asked how much he would pay his replacement when he is in school...without missing a beat he said 10 shillings and keep the other 40 for himself. I love this kid and his entrepreneurship. He is in for $7,600 shillings and Grace says the whole family are quality people who can make this work.
Susan came in with a plan that Benson and I talked about when we were driving to the school for the first time. There were two such plans submitted and we chose Susan as she is an orphan...her father died last year. Her plan is to buy three different cereals in 25 kg bags and separate them into quarter and half kilo bags and then sell each bag for a 15 or 20 shilling profit depending on the weight. She also plans to sell cooking oil at the same time...same idea buy in bulk and sell small quantities for a profit. Susan was awarded $8,200 shillings.
The fact is I would have been happy to partner with nine of the kids, they all had a workable plan however we told them up front we would choose only three. Before I talked to the class on the first day about business plans I talked to them about success...how everybody wants success but most people only kind of want it and won't put the hard time in to increase their chances of success. I reiterated that to 5 kids today and I'm quite sure that at least several of them will rework their plans which means almost one third of the group already has a good chance to succeed. After we left the school today Benson told me that these kids have never been exposed to this kind of thinking and he believes it will change some lives. I just hope we have some success and create positive role models for the other kids and that in the long run we can grow the heck out of this.
Tomorrow the entire monitoring and evaluation team will visit Agano before we leave Nairobi and I will get a chance to introduce the three children to the team and leave them with our congratulations.
one of the school's toilets
Photogenic kids at lunch in their classroom. . . hot lunch is provided for some . . . those who would otherwise not have a meal at all
surrounding area as seen from the school's 2nd floor
housing beside the school