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Resilience in a Male Dominated Field

Mary has gone from a devastating incidence of robbery at her m-pesa ( Mobile Money banking business) to a new thriving business. In 2008 Mary had a m-pesa and a beauty shop that were thriving until one evening when her business was robbed. After the devastation she worked different jobs for a few years until 2014 when she decided to start a new business. Mary decided that she wanted to open a shop selling bike parts, auto parts, and beauty supplies. Even though the auto and bike industry is extremely male dominated Mary began to explore where she could buy goods to supply her shop and began planning where to open it.  So with the help of a loan from Opening Village Doors Foundation and some money she had saved, she started over and opened her shop.

As we visit her today, Mary’s shop is doing well, she has a good amount of clients and the word of mouth marketing about her shop is spreading. Thanks for donors who support Opening Village Doors Foundation, her business is doing good, she has a good income to support her family and she can make her loan repayments on time, and Mary has plans on how she would like to grow her shop by adding food items, and some expensive spare parts that she is not currently able to stock.

Near the end of our visit Mary thanked Opening Village Doors Foundation for supporting her. She described how banks will not give loans to small businesses like herself because they are only interested in large businesses in order to have large profit. She appreciates the  follow up visits done by Opening Village Doors staff means to her as they motivate her and helps keep her accountable.

The work of Opening Village Doors would not be possible without the generosity of those who support our mission. Thank you to all those who have shown support in the past and still do, if you would like to donate to help Mary and those in similar situations start their businesses and be able to support themselves you can click on the link bellow. No gift is ever small.

Opening Village Doors in Malawi

When we arrived at Kamuzu International Airport, we were greeted with friendly smiles and welcoming voices. Though the airport was simple there was a abundance of warm hearted people that guided us into Malawi. It is the same treatment that we received as we drove to the country side, heading to the district of Mangochi. As we climbed in elevation through the mountains the air turned fresh and cold, as if welcoming us to the warm coastal weather of Lake Malawi.

Our visit to Malawi was an invitation from Warm Hearts Foundation which has been working in Malawi for over a decade. They wanted to partner with Opening Village Doors Foundation to provide micro-lending to empower women in the district of Mangochi. Warm Hearts Foundation liked the OVDF micro-lending model in Kenya- to directly engage individuals ready to start  income generating projects. Once these individuals have shown an interest, we work with them to develop a business plan, provide training, and give starting capital and mentorship.  The ultimate goal being to walk alongside those who we support so they can succeed in business and in life.

During our visit we had the opportunity to meet some of the 12 business women that the two organizations have been able to partner with. The businesses are located in the Mangochi Market. This market is open seven days a week and encompasses a multitude of goods, such as, fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and other things. Anything you could want can be found in this market, it is a busy place full of activity and trading. In the market we found Gloria, who operates a stand of fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices. She captures the essence of this partnership as she remarks that “ …before this, I did not have a way of paying for my child’s education, healthcare or meeting basic needs, now, I am able to pay tuition for them in the private school and I am able to support my family”…she then added, “thank you so much for your support”. Gloria’s story is not unique for these 12 business women, her statement encompasses how all of them feel about the new opportunity.

As we end our visit in Malawi we are reminded of the African proverb that states “…one hand cannot take cows to the river by itself…” meaning, that in order to fight poverty through business start-ups we need the support of donors, staff and volunteers, who value our mission and vision so those we work with can thrive.

 

By Frederick Bw’Ombongi and Alexis Shannon

Believing in the vision

Opening Village Doors Foundation®’s vision is simple; we envision a time when the villages we touch are prosperous, healthy and self sustaining and suffering has been relieved because of the micro loans, community projects, training, education and technical expertise we have provided. It is my hope you will join us to make this vision a reality to one individual, family and village at a time. How can you help to make it a reality for one person today? Click to donate.

 

A new office takes shape

As part of our strategy to the individuals, families and communities that we serve, it has been our goal to have a place to call home. A place where families can walk in with questions, know where we are located and to show a commitment that we are here to stay. In simple terms, it brings stability, predictability, trust and commitment- OVDF is part of the community we serve!

In many African communities, once a young man has been initiated to adulthood, it is customary for them to have a place of their own. It signifies a stage in their lives that they are mature enough and ready to take on responsibilities as they curve out their own niche in the process of their grown. With the new office space, Opening Village Doors Foundation® seeks to provide space to our team so as to be effective in  furthering our mission and vision.

As you can see in the attached picture, the door is in with some final touches to be finalized tomorrow. The electric is wired and now what is left is to set up a computer and printer.

Individuals and families that we serve will come to the office tomorrow to pray and bless the office as we embark in this journey. Thank you for making it possible!

Coming tomorrow, read about our new Community Development Coordinator and a new office look!

 

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Removing Barriers

The poor face a lot of challenges that confront them each day. It is only those with hope and determination that can see beyond the current challenges who thrive. On a given day, many families skip one or two meals a day because they don’t have enough food. Many families’ savings are wiped out or the only asset they had in form of livestock [cow, chicken, sheep, goat] is sold to meet a medical bill of a loved one, funeral expenses and tuition.. The same it true on education, as kids go without schooling or not having the needed uniform, books or school fees to continue with their studies.

The impact of all these challenges can lead to hopelessness and focusing on the present moment than looking at what tomorrow can bring and planning out the future.

All the families that Opening Village Doors Foundation® serves in Kenya are in these situations every day. What we are uniquely suited is that; we are a small non-profit organization that has built relationship with those that we serve. Our team in Kenya visits each family and knows where they live, the challenges they are going through and helps them to start addressing the barriers that face them so that they may succeed. In the midst of all these challenges Opening Village Doors Foundation® belief is; the individuals and families have potential within them, our role is to enable them to reach within their depths of being and stand strong again.

Our presence and support is a source of ‘strength and a ray of hope’ as one of the individual put it in the midst of the barriers that surround them.

Thank you for all your support in 2011

Because of YOU, we were able to give hope and EMPOWER individuals and families in Kenya to start a small business so that they can reach their full potential. Your support helped individuals help themselves to put food on table, pay tuition for their kids, grow their businesses and look forward to another day full of hope and promise.

In 2012, we plan to support more individuals start small business, support them with training and help them build their villages and communities through their own ideas. We envision a time when the villages we touch are prosperous, healthy and self sustaining and suffering has been relieved because of the micro-loans, community projects, training, education and technical expertise we have provided.

Your continued help makes the story of Mrs. Gintinji possible! Click on the link and read more.

We raise our eyes above and pray that 2012 bring good health, happiness and good will to you and your family.

Sincerely,

Opening Village Doors Board of Directors[ Fred Bw’Ombongi, Paul Brink, Karynn Sikkema, Dana Boals, Bob Garvey & Mark Piersma]

Kenya-6-16-11-187

Fear of Failure

Today’s bible reading has been in my mind. The reading was Mt 25:14-30, it is about a master who goes for a journey and gives his possession to his servants. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one. When he returned, the servants who were given 5 and 2 talents each had invested them and doubled them, however, the one who was given 1 talent, because of FEAR, hid the talent.

The reason the reading has stayed with me today more than it has other years when I read it is because I can see the families that Opening Village Doors Foundation partners with in Kenya through this reading. On the other hand it reminded me of the first meeting that I had with prospective individuals three years ago, because this was the bible story that I used to drive the point home – they all have potential and they can succeed and get out of poverty!

So today, I have been asking myself, what will make the servant who was given 1 talent fearful and not take a risk and invest it? As I ponder this question, my mind shifts to quotes that I read in Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkerts’ book ‘When Helping Hurts’.

The authors share the following quotes; from Moldova, one person states,  “For a poor person, everything is terrible-illness, humiliation, and shame. We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us. We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of?”  While from Cameroon, another person states, “[The poor have] a feeling of powerlessness and an inability to make themselves heard” and finally, one person from Uganda states “When one is poor, she has no say in public, she feels inferior. She has no food, so there is famine in her house; no clothing and no progress in her family” It is no wonder the individuals are afraid due to poverty to take risk even when they have great ideas to thrive and grow!

It is very easy then to see the poor and see them as lacking or deficient. We often choose to give them money and other gifts in hope that our gifts will get them out of poverty. Opening Village Doors takes a different approach, and removes the FEAR through training, education and by giving them a small loan to start a small business so that they can support their families, and villages.

Due to the support of our donors and supporter, Opening Village Doors’ message to the individuals and families that we partner with, is “we have confidence in you, you are capable, you are created in God’s image, you have potential. Go and multiply the loan you have been given, we will walk along side you as you seek to gain ground, as you stand on your own and as you walk and eventually run, we will smile and pray and wish you well that you touch others as others have touched you!”

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