Kibera is generally referenced as the largest slum in Africa. You don’t have to spend a lot of time there to start to feel the weight of that description. The struggle of slum life is not hidden. It is seen in the trash and sewage that litter the streets, and in the low standard of living experienced by the masses crowded into this Nairobi eyesore. It is felt as a sense of sadness and even oppression.
However, even in the midst of these circumstances, there is more.Kibera is home to stories of hope, and resilience, and transformation. One way this is happening is through micro-finance programs funded through Springs of Africa’s administration of BDGF Loan Funds. Nicholas is a young man who is the proud owner of “Piccadilly Fries,” a small shop in Kibera selling French fries and sausages. A small loan helped Nicholas purchase the equipment necessary to set up shop, including a deep fryer and handy tool for quickly cutting potatoes into fries. Most recently, Nicholas was approved for another loan allowing him to purchase a vehicle. This is especially useful, because his dream is that of expansion. He has a vision of a larger shop, where people have a space to sit and eat. He has hopes to branch out into new and different businesses. And while small business has provided Nicholas with a way to support himself beyond the day-to-day existence experienced by most in Kibera, it also is a wonderful opportunity for him to engage with the community. Nicholas has encouraged and supported friends going through the process of starting and building small businesses.
Picadilly Fries takes the approach of valuing their relationship with their customers. Nicholas shared that he is able to maintain profit margins (in the face of many nearby competitors) because he takes the time to get to know his customers. Spending a morning at the shop, this was clear. Nicholas was kind and friendly – he knew his customers very well. And this was also clear – he makes a great French fry!
~ Rahab Muchunu