Written by Samuel Abuya (Culled from African Global News).
It is widely said, and agreed, that iron sharpens iron. This can be said of a Kenyan women group which pooled their cash to put up an apartment with at least 100 rooms and are now Landladies.
This group from Kenya simply rewrote what has been the norm with most, or a good number of saving groups and tread a new path that many have termed as “uncharted territories” as far as women groups across the continent are concerned.
The Murang’a County Women SACCO, as the cooperative group is known, basically decided not to tow the line. They did the unusual. In most cases, such groups are concerned with making some small contributions to enhance the welfare of their members. It is with such small contributions that this Kenyan women group managed to pool together towards accomplishing a big project that would have been, in the eyes of many, unbelievable.
Last year, the Kenyan women group unveiled a students’ apartment block fully built from scratch with their own contributions, and set off a new tone in their investment ventures.
The women are credited with raising almost $1 million that completed the 102-room apartment, even though their daily contributions per person were as little as $0.1, in some instances. According to the women, they basically leveraged on their numbers to make sure that they did not lose sight of they target of becoming Landladies.
Instead of sharing the contributions, this Kenyan women group opted to deny themselves for a while (delayed gratification), and instead, focused on buying a piece of land, and built the 5-storey apartment with more than 100 rooms. The over 100-room apartment will accommodate students from neighboring Colleges and Universities. This remarkable feat by the women cooperative did not come easily. There were several social and cultural difficulties that literally threatened to stall the project at different times.
One member of the group, Grace Ndegwa, a mother of two, who lost her husband in 2003, struggled throughout the process, however she saw the fruits of her toil when the project was officially opened.
Her aspirations were, all through, to someday start a good business that would help her care for her family. Now, she is a proud co-owner of the property in question.
The completion of the project marked the opening of other opportunities as the women can now venture into other investments backed up with improved credit worthiness that can give them access to even more financing from Financial institutions (Banks), as well as Credit Cooperative Organizations, commonly referred to, in Kenya, as SACCOs.
The group seemed to have done their homework right by buying a piece of land in an area that is populated with university students. Indicators from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that by last year, the number of students enrolling in in Kenyan public and private tertiary institutions, which basically forms the primary target of this Kenyan women group in their investments, had shot up from 78.2% to 107.6%.
The women group is now six-years-old and according to the women in this group, they are not resting on their laurels with the achievement. Their eyes are still on the ball, and they are looking forward to purchasing another 2,000 acres of land from the proceeds that will be generated from this initial apartment project.
The group has also benefited from a Kenyan Government’s directive that at least 30 percent of all tenders be given to Women, the Youth and People living with disabilities (PLWD). This group, for instance, is said to have managed a tender to rehabilitate a road in their locality, a project from which which they realized Three Hundred Thousand Dollars ($300,000). This tender saw the women doing jobs like clearing bushes, concrete mixing and trench-digging etc.
This Kenyan women group is an excellent example of what great entrepreneurial minds can do when they come together.
An Africa Global News Publication.