From Hawker to Boss

For a home with eighteen children to be catered for, Pastor Joseph Simiyu works as hard as possible. He wants to ensure they eat, are clothed and attend school as other children in the neighborhood. “I began as a hawker selling households items at a very cheap price. This was not enough considering that my home had become a home to fourteen other children. With little savings from that business, Pastor Simiyu opened a music shop. He had just joined DOVE Springs Sacco and business was growing. “I saved for a while since the Sacco requires a member to save for six months before applying for a loan.” Eleven months later, Pastor Simiyu approached the Sacco and was given loan of one hundred thousand shillings.

“My shop was filling up fast due to the many sales items I was bringing in to sell. I expanded the shop and transformed the music shop to a general shop with almost all household items.” Once a movie and music shop, Pastor Simiyu now also sells second hand electronics, cosmetics shop and vitenge. “It takes courage and willingness to take risks to make it in business. These businesses have changed our lives tremendously.” Pastor Simiyu says. “My children including our foster children are in school, they get a meal every day, my fare to wholesale shops is paid for and I started a chicken-business for my wife. Indeed God has blessed us.”

Reaching this point, however, has not been easy. “I have experienced theft from my employees. This has cost me a great deal as I lost trust in employing people. Every time I travel, my shop remains closed rendering sales stagnant. Sales depends on seasons too. During holidays, I sell more especially movies and music. People also want to dress well and women would come for the vitenge materials. I also experience dry days where I do not sell anything. These are the days I do not go home because I do not even earn enough to fuel my motorbike.

Pastor Simiyu encourages anyone wanting to grow in business to be part of the Sacco. “It is in the Sacco that I gained knowledge and I will be a lasting member. In the near future, I want to own a motorbike and a pick-up to transport goods to my shop,” he concludes.

 

Loan Leads to a Chain of Businesses

At Sirende shopping centre, Mr. Orungu receives me. I notice a warm reception by other bodaboda operators as I walk towards him. I later learnt of his new role as the bodaboda Chairman at Sirende. It is a role that he acquired through hard work in his motorbike business.

Mr Orungu 1Five years ago, Mr. Orungu’s wife, Esther, joined DOVE Springs Sacco. She saved for a while and as a family they decided to take a loan of thirty thousand shillings. The loan was used to purchase a motorbike. This became Mr. Orungu’s source of employment as he took it upon himself to be the operator. “We did not want to take another loan since the motorbike business was bringing a profit. From it, we saved more. I had already identified a need and market for bricks.”

“The whole process of producing bricks is expensive and tiresome. Getting skilled labor who know how to mix the soil and make blocks is another task. These people need money,” Mr. Orungu explains. But it was possible because the motorbike was on the move, catering for the brick business and family bills

Mr Orungu 2 “I will sell half of the bricks and with the other half we will lay the foundation of our house,” explains Mr. Orungu. “The people I employed to produce the bricks had to drop out of school because they did not have fees. I took it upon myself to visit their schools and talk to their parents. I wanted them back to school and so I paid their allowances to their school accounts. I am glad I did so to change their lives and also ease the burdens on their parents.”

Brick business can be affected by weather changes as pointed out by Mr. Orungu. “Weather does affect the production of bricks as they have to undergo days of hardening through heating. In case of heavy rains, the wet bricks are soaked in water rendering them unusable.”

Mr Orungu 4Mr. Orungu is a proud man “The motorbike opened doors for us. We are now producing bricks, and our next plan is to  rear chicken. DOVE Springs Sacco changed our vision. We have increased our work momentum to repay the loan. We need more loans and we cannot take any chance of being blacklisted in case we do not repay!” he concludes.

 

 

Mbulutini Kings Academy

When God called James and Truphosa Mwendwa into ministry, He saw within them the potential to change their community. They started with the agenda of preaching the Good News. But they soon noticed very low literacy levels among people in the community. Through DOVE Mbulutini in Ukambani region of Kenya, Mbulutini Kings Academy opened its doors in January 2009 with three pre-primary pupils. The school aimed to address the issues of illiteracy, ignorance, spiritual and economic bondage in the community and provide a platform in which pupils could learn God’s Word. Since then, the number of pupils has grown from three to fifty.

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Teaching began in the church building and as the number of pupils increased, more classrooms were needed. The church then began construction and has built four brick-walled classrooms. They also rent more rooms to cater for the increasing population of pupils and teachers.

“It was clear that illiteracy was high and most people could not read the Bible even in the local language,” the Mwendwa’s explain. “With approximately 3,000 adults in the immediate community, less than 1% of the people have a post-secondary certificate or diploma and less than 20% have attended high school. The majority are primary school dropouts.” They notice that the common pastime of idling results in social evils among young people and backwardness in the community.”

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Mbulutini King’s Academy is making a difference, but it is not easy. Many parents, challenged by poverty, cannot pay school fees. Secondly, the Government of Kenya requires that they employ certified Teachers from the Teachers Service Commission which strains the resources of the school. Also, most of the pupils’ classrooms are on a rented property which adds even more strain to the school budget. The escalating economy has led to increases in food prices, making it difficult for the school to offer meals to the children and teachers as they normally do.

But despite the challenge, Mbulutini Kings Academy is determined to bring holistic change—even as God gives strength.

*Mbulutini Kings Academy is a new member of the Springs of Africa Education Initiatives Programme.

I dared to dream

Every minute counts for Daniel Obindi Nyaleso, a 26-year-old events and décor entrepreneur. “I became a member of DOVE Christian Fellowship Kawangware in 2013 and did not know that this would be a place of worship and at the same time a place that would push me towards my business goals,” Daniel explains. He learnt about DOVE Springs Sacco through Sunday announcements. After a while he joined the Sacco and started saving.

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At the time, he had been employed by his friend to run his business. “I organized delivery, coordinated business activities and paid workers. Such a platform gave me an opportunity to acquire skills.” After a while, Daniel decided it was time to be on his own. “I talked to my friend of my plans and he wished me well. I am glad we are business partners. When I needed some money to boost my business, I decided to knock the doors of DOVE Springs Sacco.”

Obby Dan Daniel took a loan of thirty thousand shillings and invested the whole amount to purchase one hundred seats. “Business was growing and from the clients I had met from my previous job, I had so many referrals. I thus needed more chairs.”
Daniel talks passionately about the lessons he has learned. “Be trustworthy as you work for someone else. Have a positive mindset and be willing to learn. Do to perfection whatever your hands find to do.”

15349828_1867233120156115_8218203431469746357_nHaving had a background in events and décor business, Daniel did not anticipate so many challenges. “I was wrong,” he says. “At times, I deliver services and am not paid. Sometimes, big institutions would want me to deliver first then pay me later. This affects my employees as they have to wait to be paid.”
As a young upcoming entrepreneur, Daniel encourages young people to start somewhere, save the little money they make and learn to depend on themselves, “Let your family members grow, let the church grow; do not be dependent on people. Everyone has their own needs, so learn to meet your own. After all, there are no big or small dreams. What differentiates our dreams is how we set our goals,” Daniel concludes.

Desert Streams has Come Down

Devastation ravaged through kibera slums on Tuesday night and desert streams school was razed to the ground. The school building, desks, computers, textbooks and student books, supplies, student records, church equipment-they are all gone. To the natural eye, the situation looks hopeless. But Judy Oloo the co-director and her husband Tobias, the teachers and even the children are not without hope.

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Desert Streams School before the fire

The Oloo’s were alerted at night about a fire. “When we got here, we could not do anything. The fire was spreading too fast,” Judy recounts. “Even what we tried to salvage was snatched by looters who were taking advantage of the confusion to grab whatever they could.”

The day before, nearly 250 students were busy learning in the school whose vision is to provide “quality education that enhances a child’s life-long dreams.” They were ready for a good year. Now, remains of revision papers, scraps of metal and two staircases leading to nowhere speak of a what was but is no more.

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Remains of Desert Streams School after the fire

Despite the calamity, children reported to school the following day. Teachers gathered them in groups in the empty adjacent church building and courageously continued teaching as best they could. Parents came to witness the damage.

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“We were hoping to finally finish construction on the school building,” Judy explained. “Now in just minutes, it has all been grounded.”
The fire was apparently sparked by electrical fire caused by an illegal power connection in the neighborhood. “I heard a huge explosion followed by several more explosions and within a short time, the whole neighborhood was burning.” a teary victim narrates.

“We are collecting nails hopefully to be reused when time to rebuild another building comes. We do not know where to begin, we have been reduced to nothing, we began the year well but now we are lost in the ‘desert’, Judy desperately explains.
Then the unwavering hope: “But with God’s help, we shall surely start again.”

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NOTE:Desert streams is in the Springs of Africa Education Initiatives program. The interim emergency plan is to partition the church to form classrooms. The most urgent need is now for books and desks. We encourage you to donate toward these costs.You can so do at http://www.springsofafrica.org (via Paypal) to Springs of Africa to RESTORE DESERT STREAMS. Thank you!

Uncertainty Fosters Certainty

 
“I had no idea of what business to pursue” says Jane Akumu, an omena supplier at Kawangware market. Jane is a widow living in Kawangware with her two children and three grandchildren. Being a member of DOVE Springs Sacco, Jane took a loan of thirty thousand Kenya shillings and decided to venture into omena business, even though she was uncertain what the outcome would be.

jane-akumuWith hope, resilience, sacrifice and hard work, Jane has managed to shift to a bigger house that can accommodate her and her children and has a section where she can store her omena. “Before, I used to request a friend to keep my sacks for me at the close of business and many times, I found them tempered with. I always felt bad.”
Jane can now meet more of the needs of her family. “I am happy that I can pay rent, pay school fees for my children and put food on the table. I wake up at 5:00 a.m and by 5:30 a.m, I am already settled at the market selling omena to the retailers.” Despite being uncertain of the kind of business to engage in before, Jane is proud of herself for taking the risks; a loan and venturing into a business that she was not sure would pick up. “In a good day, I make Ksh 5,000 and in a bad day, I make Ksh 1,000,” asserts Jane.

Just like in any other business, Jane encounters challenges. Her major challenge is transportation of the sacks of omena from Lake Victoria. “It is expensive and I cannot be sure if I will get them since I order for them here in Nairobi,” Jane explains. She recalls a recent scenario where her two sacks of omena were rained on and she had to sell them at a throw-away price to farmers to feed their animals. “That was really a set-back,” she says. “I could not repay the loan in time since I had other needs to meet at home.”
As she builds up the business, Jane aspires to buy land, build rental houses and plant maize in the village. This is as a result of the omena business opening her eyes to other business possibilities.

By Daisy Kilel

 

Conservation Agriculture in Practice

While traveling to Marmanet, I remind myself that an early arrival at Kwanjiku village will enable me to make arrangements for our Kijani* capacity-building training on conservation agriculture. Reaching Kwanjiku around mid-morning, I start the preparations. As a norm of community change agents, I go straight to the Assistant Chief’s office to report the purpose of my visit. Madam Chief Naomi accepts the idea and directs me to several other assistant chiefs in the location to assist me. Now the real work begins.

By evening, I am overwhelmed with phone calls from all corners of Kwanjiku. Community members are highly interested — to the point that I start to get worried. The number could be well above the thirty we had planned for!

The following day, not only do our trainers arrive, but community members start coming from all corners. With the number surpassing the target, we get started as 65 community members are ready to listen, learn, transfer knowledge, and apply the skills.

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Francis Ogembo, one of the Trainers, demonstrating how to plant seeds.

 

 

Day one starts by taking community members through the concepts of conservation agriculture such as mulching, crop rotation, manure composting, and field preparation. Our two trainers find it hard to respond to the many questions. In the middle of the training one community member shouts “kwekwe kwekwe kwekwe” meaning “weed weed weed”. People burst out in laughter. Shocked, we are worried that we had committed a heinous crime in the training floor, later to realize that he wanted to share his nasty experience of weeds in his farm and he needed much help. Day one ends with a powerful thanksgiving prayer.SOA1

The second day is dedicated to practical work. We assemble at Mr. Haman’s plot, one of the trainees who dedicated his land for demonstration. Everyone is involved in learning how to prepare land, minimize soil disturbance, make holes for crops and vegetables, prepare top dressing with animal manure, and make compost manure. Farmers begin to realize that low yields are a result of inadequate techniques.SOA 2

We later climb the hills of Marmanet to reach our second demonstration plot where Mama Wambui offers her portion of land as a demo plot. I keep busy supplying our trainers with mulch from fallen tree leaves and other agricultural wastes (see the photo).

Kijani being a youthful organization, we are impressed by the turnout of young people who committed their time to attend our training and implement the model.

Before leaving, we distribute the training manuals. The vibrant smiles assure us that all has been well received. It was a happy ending.SOA3

A great African leader once said, “Communities cannot be developed; they can only develop themselves by participating in development activities.” This is exactly what we witnessed.

* Kijani is a Springs of Africa project that promotes tree-planting, conservation agriculture and youth empowerment. To learn more about Kijani, visit http://blog.kijani.co/

By David Oyaga

 

Reaching Out the Community through Fun Day

 

More than 100 hundred children in Kawangware have been enjoying a whole day fun at DOVE Christian Fellowship, thanks to Springs of Africa which have been facilitating the monthly activity.

The fun day which takes place every third Saturday of the month brings together children in Kawangware locality, giving them an opportunity to be spiritually nourished. During the event, the children get to read the Bible and taught on topical issues such as personal hygiene, Christian living, discipline and academic excellence among others.

Participants of VBS 2015 display their presents during the final day of the annual event.The children receives gifts and reading materials from the Lee family who are missionaries in Kenya from South Korea and passionate of children ministry. The Lees also facilitates the playing of games besides providing lesson materials to the teachers for training the children.

Alloyce Onyango, a Sunday school teacher in DOVE Kawangware said that the main objective of the fun day aims at bringing together children in the community and teaching them God’s word. Additionally, the event helps the children not only to get fun as they play the games but also to improve their physical fitness.

“We also identify the needs of the children and usually those struggling with low self-esteem and give them special attention and one on one counseling,” added Alloyce.

Most parents in the community laud the event saying that their children get engaged with the Word of God on Saturdays rather than staying indoors and watch the television all day long. They appreciate the financers of the event for their commitment in reaching out the community.

 

By Ken Irungu

Poultry Farming is Lucrative, Urges SACCO Member

In a society where chicken meat is costly, investing in poultry farming becomes a lucrative business as Amos Kiprotich and his wife Milka, members of DOVE Springs SACCO, can testify.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe couple acquired a loan from the SACCO and invested in poultry farming. To ensure they stand out among other competitors, Mr and Mrs Tanui reared Kuroiler Breed that originated from Arizona University and that have desirable features compared to other local breeds.

The couple explains that their investment is a good source of family income in that each hen lays an average of 200 eggs that they sell at Ksh 30 each. They add that they hatch the eggs too and sell a one-day chick at Ksh 100.

“Through the loan, we were able to build chicken houses, pay the staff managing the poultry farm and also buy vaccines for the hens,” adds Amos. In addition, they have been able to buy more land and even invest in rabbit keeping.

With their second loan, Mr and Mrs Tanui bought a motorbike, and have employed a driver to ferry passengers and also transport eggs to the markets.

Amos and Milka hope to acquire another loan soon and be able to buy their own incubatorSANYO DIGITAL CAMERA to reduce on the cost of leasing it out which is expensive. They also plan to invest in livestock farming.

Mr and Mrs Tanui urge those who are hesitant to join savings groups to take a step and register, since this type of group is relevant even to those with a low-income. “Through DOVE Springs SACCO, one is able to acquire a loan with a very low and affordable interest,” they conclude.

 

By Kenneth Irungu

Loans have Changed Our Family Life

“When we acquired a motorbike with the help of loan from DOVE Springs SACCO, our lives have changed,” says Esther Ongaya, a social worker at Baba Nyumbani children’s home in Kitale.SANY3615.JPG

Esther, who joined the SACCO in 2012, has taken two loans. She was among the first members to acquire a personal development loan, and used it to pay a deposit toward buying a piece of land. This made it possible for her to move out of the rental house where she had lived with her family for more than 10 years.

The couple is now getting much from their farm where they have planted vegetables and sugarcane for sale. Esther also invested in poultry. “We have a tender for supplying poultry to the nearby schools,” adds Esther.

After repaying the loan, Esther applied for another loan, which they used to buy a motorbike to ferry passengers. They also used part of the loan as capital to start selling used clothes in nearby market.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Besides being used as a taxi, Esther notes that the motorbike has improved their life greatly in that her husband takes their children every day to school and transports her to work.

“I am grateful that through the loan, my husband now generates income daily and our life as family has changed drastically,” she declares. She adds that her salary alone would not have enabled her to do all the things they have done in their family.

By: Kenneth Irungu