By Grace Katee
Getting into Kayole, an informal settlement within Nairobi, is not a walk in the park. The place is a beehive of activities, as everyone busies themselves with the hustle and bustle of eking a living.
At the Masimba junction, we meet Raphaela Wangari, busy tidying up her shop. She has just received a new stock of eggs to add to what she had. Minutes later, her general store, commonly referred to as a duka, is a swam of activities as clients line up to buy basic commodities found at her shop.
Raphaela meticulously puts together everything her client has asked for and hands them to her with a smile on her face.
At the beginning of the year 2020, Raphaela could not afford such a beautiful infectious smile. Her squabbles at home with her husband left her depressed and dejected.
“We would fight all the time he came back home from work. Mostly it was because he had not left enough money at home to cater for the family. He also never allowed me to go out in search of a job” Confirms Raphaela.
Her woes continued, with her husband often abusing her physically. There are days she says she spent outside in the cold at night with her children, running away from her violent partner.
“ In several instances, he would attack me after knowing I had gone out in search of a job. He always wanted me to stay at home and not work” Recounts Raphaela.
However, things changed when Raphaela opened up to one of CREAW’s community champions working in her area. She managed to move out of the house she lived with her husband and rented her own house where she lives with her 2 children.
“ With the support I got from CREAW I decided to start a general store, just outside the flat where I reside. I started off with sweets and other basic items and gradually through the 3 months cash transfer, I can now proudly say I run a general shop” Encourages Raphaela with a smile on her face.
About 3 km away from Masimba junction, is Alice’s vegetables stall. It’s almost 12 noon and she’s preparing vegetables for a client’s order. It is the order of the day here, for her to prepare Kales and cabbages for her waiting clients.
Just like Raphaela, Alice has also had a fair share of tribulations with her husband. She had to leave her matrimonial home in Taita Taveta and start life afresh with her 2 children in Nairobi.
“I decided to start a vegetable business with the cash transfer money I got. It is from this business that I am able to pay my house rent” Confirms Alice.
The mother of two partnered with her mother, to start another business in Muthurwa market here in Nairobi. The yams and sweet potatoes business is part of the different flows of income Alice has mastered to invest in.
Both Raphaela and Alice, went through the economic empowerment trainings, organized by CREAW Kenya with support from the Mastercard Foundation. The trainings are meant to equip women with the right skills and opportunities, to help their businesses and markets grow especially after the effects of COVID-19 on business.
“From the training, I learnt how to do record keeping. I am able to take stock of what I have in the shop and account for the profits made from each item that I had bought” Says Raphaela
On the other hand, Alice managed to sharpen her business acumen, as she became shrewd in advancing her opportunities.
“Customer relations is another skill I acquired and am gladly applying it in my business. I ensure my clients get quality vegetables at a fair price and I also give clients a free carrier bag for those who buy items for more than Ksh 100” Smile Alice.
With support from Mastercard Foundation, through the Response, Recovery and Resilience Project in partnership with GROOTS and The Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development: CCGD, Raphael and Alice have a reason to smile, as they can comfortably take care of the basic needs of their families and rebuild their lives from the shackles of abuse and torment.