Small Steps Up ~ Micro Enterprise ladies sharing HopeCore’s 18 years of success in empowering rural women.
Gail Sheehy says that if we don’t change, we don’t grow and if we don’t grow we aren’t really living. In a world where everyone wants everything instantly, to find individuals patiently dedicated something better is not common.
This being the month where we celebrate the International Day of Rural Women, we want to acknowledge the patience and zealousness our HopeCore Women.
The Micro Enterprise Program started with 12 women in 2001 and 17 years later, the number has only kept growing. To this day, 67% of our clientele are women and their efforts and dedication towards being economically sustainable can be felt even in their communities. Empowerment of women is critical to the achievement of sustainable development. The focus on financial sustainability lays emphasis on the need for information sharing, integration and participation of people as key building blocks to help countries achieve human development (Kumar, 2009). Empowering women in developing countries is essential in reducing global poverty considering women’s representation as the world’s poorest population (Intel, 2012; UNRISD, 2010). Village HopeCore is dedicated to fostering integral development through the Micro Enterprise empowerment programs.
Leon Brown says that life does not always give you what you want but if you look closely you will see that it gives you what you need for your growth. And indeed this is the story of HopeCore women. The lines on their faces tell us the stories of who they are and their journey. In this age in which we live where women are the breadwinners of most homes, the struggle is real and bearing this kind of burden is not easy. They work so hard with so little and yet they have accomplished so much. The HopeCore staff is so glad to be part of their journey.
One of their gradual efforts is table banking. A concept that starts of small and humble, table banking is a group based funding system where members make weekly or monthly monetary contributions from which they can borrow at an interest. Kumar (2009) states that self-help groups are formed across countries as an effective strategy for poverty alleviation, human development, and social empowerment through increased access to financing. Our women form small groups comprised of about 12 women and start with weekly savings as small as KES 100(USD 1) because with their given income and numerous expenses that is all they can afford to put away. Pulling their funds together no matter how little gives them an opportunity to borrow more to invest in their small enterprises and pay back at an interest which then enables the funds to grow.
This sort of financial inclusion also acts as a form of banking that is readily available at the community level and gives an opportunity to empower themselves and eventually attain financial independence.
Village HopeCore is dedicated to the women’s financial literacy, and once a group is funded with a soft loan, the group receives rigorous training on how to properly manage a table banking account even when their funds grow. Financial literacy is the knowledge about personal finance that enables people to confidently manage their financial lives. The Micro Enterprise Program is constantly changing the curriculum on financial education to our groups to suit their various needs.
Our program has witnessed spectacular successes since inception. We have witnessed income increases of KES 5000(USD 50) to KES 75,000(USD 750) over a span of four years such as seen in our 2018 model woman entrepreneur, Consolata Karegi of Karia 2 Self-Help Group.
We are so blessed to be part of this amazing journeys of these wonderful wonder women who are changing their lives and those of their communities for the better and we honor them this year.