3CF partners with Village Enterprise in the Kitale area of western Kenya to help rural women living below the poverty line start small businesses that graduate them and their households out of extreme poverty. Neighborhood women with similar business interests join into groups of 3 entrepreneurs to establish each new business. 3CF’s grant supports Village Enterprise's program that provides $90 in start-up capital per 3-person-run business. Following the initial grant and training, Village Enterprise provides ongoing onsite technical and motivational support for up to one year through additional training and mentoring as well as a follow-up grant of $40 6 months after the start-up grant if the business has met milestones set in its business plan. Village Enterprise also facilitates the formation of Business Savings Groups of 10 small businesses i.e. 30 individuals each.
In June 2016, my husband, Dave Straley, and I were pleased to visit 30 of these businesses in two districts near Kitale with Village Enterprise staff. It was a busy schedule over two days! In all, we met with approximately 120 enterprising women entrepreneurs, among whom several stood out. One of the most dynamic was Rebecca, who, with her business partners, Zilpa and Timinah, started a chicken farm. Over just a short period, these women grew this small venture into much, much more.
Rebecca, mother of 6 children, all of whom had completed at least primary school, greeted us with a huge smile and bubbling exuberance. We truly couldn't have felt more welcome. We entered her family's property on foot from the dirt road to first meet and chat with members of her family and one of her two business partners. Rebecca then showed us the enclosure where they originally started their business with 10 chickens. She mentioned that they faced an unfortunate challenge early on, when a thief stole of all of the chickens; however, they persevered and managed to replace the birds with the profits they had already realized.
In the yard, Rebecca then showed us one of the goats they managed to purchase with profits from the sale of eggs, a major milestone for growing and diversifying the small business.
From sale of the offspring of the first purchased goats combined with continued income from the eggs, Rebecca and her partners then purchased their first cow, meeting a major goal for their business. Now these 3 families not only have access to high quality protein, but more profits from the sale of the excess milk, and further diversification. They are also now up to 72 chickens.
Throughout the visit, Rebecca laughed and smiled, showing great pride in her and her business partners' accomplishments. With determination, energy, perseverance, and respect for her family and community, Rebecca, with her partners, has succeeded in not only increasing her family's income, but also her knowledge of business and the importance of saving. It is quite incredible to see how $90 in start-up capital coupled with business training and mentoring can transform the lives of women, their families, and their communities.
3CF salutes Rebecca and the other Village Enterprise entrepreneurs of Kitale!
You can also find this blog here on the Village Enterprise website.
Pam Straley is a founder and board member of 3rd Creek Foundation. She is an M.S., R.N., and Family Nurse Practitioner with a diverse background in nursing and health care administration. Her international career took off in 1974, when she joined the Peace Corps in Nicaragua as a community health volunteer. Recognizing her passion for global health, Pam continued to work with medical centers in Costa Rica and Indonesia. She has also consulted for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as its HIV/AIDS Prevention Project Manager in Zambia, as well as for the American Public Health Association, and Peace Corps. On the local front, Pam served as Manager of a clinic in Incline Village serving low income, uninsured residents of Northern Nevada. She currently serves on the board of Oral Health Nevada. Pamela earned her B.S.N. at California State Long Beach (1970), and M.S.N./F.N.P at the University of California, San Francisco (1985). She has published a health education manual and guide to general health services for foreigners in Indonesia.