Nangili Friends Church Women Group, Kenya
The groups which RSWR fund in Kenya are almost exclusively USFW groups. These groups apply for funding for themselves and are, therefore, self-monitoring. The USFW grant recipients appoint a steering committee, usually comprised of the clerk of the group, another officer and one or two members of the group. This steering committee oversees the distribution and collection of repaid funds and maintains the group records. This process is quite different from our partners in Sierra Leone and India, where a local NGO has organized the women into self-help groups, and the NGO, often with a committee of group members, oversees the project.
The Kenyan women’s groups have made great strides in establishing transparent, accountable groups which jointly make decisions about their group functioning. One forerunner of the RSWR revolving funds for the Kenyan women is a system called “merry-go-round” in which the women each contribute a small amount of money each month and revolve the collected money to one woman per month to use for her family’s needs.
Nangili Friends Church Women Group (NFCWG) is a member of Lugari Yearly Meeting (a member yearly meeting of Friends United Meeting since 2002). NFCWG was founded in 2007 and has been actively engaged in merry-go-round. The women have their own small businesses which RSWR funds help to expand so that they can make a more sustainable income. The manner in which this group (and many Kenyan partners) distributes the RSWR funds is in small initial loans. In this manner the women have opportunity to slowly build their business, manage a small loan and establish a repayment record.
For the RSWR grant received in 2009, NFCWG women divided into three sub-groups with each group participating in either poultry, buying grains at wholesale and reselling or selling firewood and kerosene (cooking fuels). The following report was received from NFCWG:
The group was formed for the purpose of promoting the welfare of women in the church. In 2009, we received a grant of $3,500. The 30 group members sat and started with the necessary preparations. It was decided that the money would be loaned at an interest rate of 20 percent. The first loans taken totaled $2,175. Repayment of the loan was good except for one member whose health was not good, but has improved and she is now servicing the loan as agreed by the members. A second loan was taken by 25 members. At this stage Kenya has been experiencing economic hardship so we lowered the interest rate to 10 percent. Most members have repaid all the money, but five members are experiencing difficulties. We optimistically expect that they will repay it. Currently we have given a third loan to 10 members. With the support from the loans, members have been able to assist one another in times of difficulties. The group faces a lot of challenges, for example, the lack of a ready market, economic hardships that affect the price of commodities and slow repayments. However, with the benefit of the RSWR loans there has been a great change in members’ lives.