International Day of Rural Women: Meet Jillo!

On this day we thought it would be fun to interview one of the inspirational women from our HopeCore program who lives a rural life and works to help empower other women living in rural areas of Kenya…Meet Jillo!

Meet Jillo! Educating, inspiring and empowering women in Kenya.

Here is a quick background:

The contribution of rural women to development is incredibly invaluable. The United Nations report that women and girls play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labor workforce, including information work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work. Even so, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas. Poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas. Yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80 percent of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people.

On this International Day of Rural Women, we thought it would be fitting to highlight one of the amazing women in our organization, Jillo Gubal Schamzad, HopeCore’s Micro Enterprise Department Coordinator. As a rural woman working to help lift the lives of women in her community to provide them with business and education opportunities, Jillo shares her experience……

Jillo Gubal Shamzad, HopeCore Micro Enterprise Coordinator

Our interview with Jillo here!

Where were you born? Did you grow up in a rural area?

Jillo Gubal Shamzad was born in a very humble home in Marsabit County, Sololo sub-county in the year 1989 at Sololo Mission Hospital. Being born in rural home life was not easy. I actually have hands-on experience about what rural life is all about. The only luck that I had was that my father was a police Sergent, so access to food was not so much of an issue.  Despite that being brought up in a rural home there are other challenges that I faced, namely, insecurity, poor infrastructure, inadequate water resources, and illiteracy. Girls’ education was not given so much of a priority because the community’s lack of support due to the cultural myth that the girls belong to their husbands. I used to draw water from a nearby stream, that is around one kilometer. My usual containers carry between 5 and 10-liter volumes of water. To draw enough water for the whole household, I used to make on average five trips with my other older siblings. In addition, I also used to help my mother in other house chores – cooking and doing laundry. 

Jillo providing a certificate of completion for one of our loan clients after a 4-day pre-funding business training

Where did you go to school? What did you choose to study?

After completing primary school, I was able to attend Chogoria Girls High school. From there I was able to Join Moi University to Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development. While I was on campus I applied for Internship and I was able to secure one at Village HopeCore Micro Enterprise. During my 3 months’ internship at Village HopeCore, the organization’s Vision of Eradicating poverty struck me and that is how I developed the passion of being part of this calling through HopeCore. After completing the school program I decided to apply to be a volunteer at Village HopeCore specifically in the Micro Enterprise department because this is the department that was geared to empower the rural poor through education and lending.

What are some of the struggles you see women face in rural Kenya?

Obtaining Finance– rural women don’t have title deeds because assets are owned by Men. HopeCore is empowering them through reaching out to these rural women to give them microloans in groups for start-up capitals. This, in the long run, will enable them to be owners of assets & even financially stable. HopeCore seeks to open up their minds to their endless potential to become who they want to be through skills-based training, and also provide them with the start-up capital in loan form to start them off to achieve their dreams.

Jillo (right) getting additional education in how to coach and train women in business

Domestic violence– Over dependency on men for their daily needs makes them the most vulnerable population. Men have power over all the finances and assets hence treat the women the way they want. Over 70% of our beneficiaries are women. The women mentioned here got an education, received loans and built up their business hence a road map to self-independence. Empowering women is like empowering the nation and the wider community. 

Poverty- Most of the women that HopeCore enrolled in the program are poor. Such a population doesn’t even afford three meals per day. They don’t even access health facilities due to lack of finances,they even don’t have bank accounts. HopeCore through the Public Health program is giving free health services to the rural poor. The Micro-Enterprise program at HopeCore on the other hand through the lending groups gives such women business loans. When their businesses grow they are able to afford at least three meals per day & access medical services.

Jillo giving a summary report of the HopeCore Micro Enterprise Program at the weekly staff meeting.

Illiteracy- Most of our clients are educated only at the primary school level, hence they don’t have knowledge of business and finances. HopeCore through its business training is making a huge impact on mentorship for these women.

Jillo out in the field, taking some visitors from the MedTreks program around to visit loan clients from HopeCore’s Micro Enterprise showing their farms and their successful business.

What would you choose to tell a primary school girl living in your community about her future choices?

This is what I will tell primary school girl- “If you did not come from a rich family, let a rich family come from you. Don’t be a victim of circumstances you can change your story. The secret is to find something you are good at and excel in it”.

Thank you Jillo! You continue to be a strong leader and source of inspiration for our entire organization at HopeCore!

Jillo (Right), Ari (center) and Esther (left) at one of HopeCore’s celebrations


1 thought on “International Day of Rural Women: Meet Jillo!”

  1. I am happy to read this been seeing Jillo and never really knew what she was doing at hopecore congratulations for the information probably you should move to churches around CHOGORIA and put across what you people are doing to also make the uninformed within the churches that could have benefitted from your micro Enterprise be informed and come for your services.

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