When COVID-19 pandemic pocked its scary nose in Kenya, food insecurity, sexual and gender-based-violence and job losses, were some of the news making headlines in the local dailies. As many were obsessed with casting their nets on the effects of the pandemic, CREAW through its partners was delving deep into the murky waters to find a solution for more than 5,000 survivors of gender based violence.
To dignify and empower women economically, Cash transfer was part of the solutions as it had the potential to help vulnerable households stay off starvation, reduce the vulnerability of survivors and those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence.
Mary Bandi from Kayole in Nairobi was one such woman. She had lost her hotel job and was now doing laundry work that could barely meet the needs of her family. On the side, she had an outstanding mortgage loan that needed to be cleared.
“My husband and I had separated long before the pandemic. As the sole provider for my two children and I, the heat was too much. I even developed blood pressure due to the economic stress I was going through,” Says Mary.
With the cash transfer she received totalling to Kes 21,000, Mary started selling crisps by the roadside outside her house. Little by little, she got orders from mini-markets around Kayole, where she supplied in bulk.
In her own words, she got a second chance at life. Mary was invited for a business development training organised by CREAW, to help beneficiaries of cash transfer program work on their business skills even as they rebuild their lives.
“What stood out for me was stock taking, saving and investing. I realised from the money I got, little went into saving. That is when I started saving little by little to help me complete my house mortgage. In a few months’ time I will be through with the balance,” Proudly states Mary, casting her eyes around her house.
Thanks to the introduction of Jasiri Fund immediately after the business development training, Mary saw an opportunity to grow her crisps business as well as diversify into the fashion industry.
“I took a loan of KES 50,000. I spent KES 30,000 for buying 3 bales of handbags. From each bale I was able to make a profit of KES 40,200. This enabled me repay my loan in 3 months,” States Mary as she was taking us through her record book.
“Investing in women owned enterprises promotes economic development among women survivors of GBV. However, mainstreaming of GBV support services into the financial inclusion program is key to reducing women’s risk of experiencing violence as well as strengthening equal access to economic resources that enhances women’s empowerment.” Confirms Moses Okello, the Women Economic Empowerment Lead at CREAW, who has been supporting women under the program rebuild their life post-COVID-19.
By the time we were leaving her home, Mary had already gotten second approval for a loan of KES 65,000. She wants to use it in expanding her handbags business as well as find another branch for the same.
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, CREAW has been providing women like Mary with affordable financial services through Jasiri Fund. The fund is available in ten counties, that has enabled 1000 entrepreneurial women to access start-up capital to invest and expand their businesses.