Many Kenyan communities have what are called chamas (or table banks)– groups of people who contribute money each month and take turns receiving the pot. It’s an effective way for people to save money, but it doesn’t generate any new income. Because of Girl Child Network’s community conversations, some groups are finding ways to use the chama structure to generate new income for themselves and their families. This, in turn, helps them keep their girls in school!
Bahoni Bahatika Caregivers Support Group is one of these groups. Around a year ago, Girl Child Network came to a community in Tana River County and led a community conversation. It was an opportunity for the group to dream of and plan for a brighter future for themselves and their families. They decided that one way to make this happen was to participate in a communal income-generating activity. They started a chama to come up with the capital they needed to get started.
After discussing a few ideas for what they could do, the members of the chama decided to make something that wouldn’t require expensive equipment, training, or materials: beaded bags and wallets. Members would be able to sit on mats below a central tree, working together to create beautiful items to sell.
Unfortunately, the beads were in Nairobi and the chama was hundreds of kilometers away. But after asking around, the group identified a man in a nearby town who was already going to Nairobi reguarly to get beads for his own business. They placed their first order with him, and the income-generating activity was off the ground!
Since then, the group has increased from the initial few to twelve members and counting! They’ve found a market for the goods in nearby Hola town, and are making $7 profit from each bag. For now, all the profits are going back into buying more materials, but in the next couple months the group is going to start using some of the profits to cultivate a piece of land. The small farm will improve their food security and allow them to cook more balanced meals. With more consistent access to healthy food, girls will spend less time being sick or trying to support their families financially, and more time in school! Because of Girl Child Network’s initial push and their own hard work, Bahoni Bahatika Caregivers Support Group will be able to raise healthier and better educated children for a better community!