Women’s Microfinance Fund
Informal microfinance is one of the most powerful instruments used in Kenya and the rest of the developing world today to empower women. Initially in Mabinju the women were borrowing money from each other in a very unorganized manner. This led to numerous problems and disagreements between neighbors, as there were no records proving details of agreements.
In 2013 Kar Geno put an end to informal ways of lending by providing seed funding and an operational framework to launch the first Women’s Micro-finance Fund in Mabinju.
Women of the community gather together in one member’s home in a formalised manner and conduct table-banking meetings. In these meetings, money is exchanged and lent and all transactions are recorded. Thanks to the training they received, members are able to do their own bookkeeping. The Fund has a Chairperson, a Treasurer, a Secretary and an Assistant Secretary. The Fund encourages the women to save money each month. By putting money into the Fund women acquire shares proportional to their contributions. The Fund issues loans to those who need them every month. An interest rate is charged and when the loan is returned, the interest amount is converted into shares in the fund, which are then owned by the borrowing member. A member can redeem their shares and withdraw a more substantial amount of their accumulated savings when they need to for a bigger project, such as home renovation or to purchase a cow.
This cooperative of women decided to purchase a large number of chairs which they rent out for special occasions such as a funeral or a party. The profits are saved in a fund and distributed as a bonus at the end of the year.
Spirit of Women
There is a spirit of unity and real comradely among the women. They all know that tough times may be just behind the corner and by joining this group they receive a net of safety and support. Each meeting ends by sharing treats and a song wishing blessings and love.