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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

Determined to succeed

Peter Onyango Aguro, aged 31, a farther of three children, one boy and two girls aged 8,5 and 1 respectively, is a well known tailor in Ng’ong town. He has done tailoring for almost a decade now. He says his greatest inspiration was his Uncle, who taught him all the basics of tailoring. Peter says he exists because of his business, it is from his his sweat that he is able to he pays rent, school fees(tuition) and still puts food on the table for his family.

This chain of responsibilities has become his greatest motivation. He knows he needs to work really hard to meet all these needs. For a number of years in his career, he was employed, but later on his employer went bankrupt and closed down his tailoring shop. With his savings he decided he would put up his own tailoring shop within Ngong town where he had a number of clients. Being that his saving wasn’t enough to get him enough machines and materials to satisfy the needs of his clients; Peter felt that he needed to get a loan to boost his business. He got  in Opening Village Doors Foundation when a friend told him about our work. I approached the organization for Ksh. 50,000 ( $500)

Peter used the funds to add two sewing machines one for Ksh. 25,000 ( $250, and another for Ksh. 15,000 ($150. One of the machines he bought was electric, which increased his productivity thus meeting customer deadlines without any problems without loosing opportunities for new orders.The rest of the money he used to add more sewing material.  When asked how things are progressing for him, he stated, the loan and mentorship that he has received from Opening Village Doors Foundation has given him so much confidence with his work and given him stability and an assurance that for sure he can sustain his business for many years to come.

Peter is very grateful to Opening Village Doors Foundation and plans to work very hard to pay back his loan so that others can also have an opportunity. He plans to employ one or two people  to expand his business. One of his dreams is to help others learn the skill of of tailoring, with time he plans to start identifying young men and women interested in the work and teach them just like his uncle had done.

Thank you for making Potential. Possible!

Idea+Training+Saving+Capital = Less poverty

Starting a business or a project that generates income to sustain a family sometimes can be a daunting task even in developed countries where the access to capital is a little easier that developing countries.

I was explaining to some colleagues today, what Opening Village Doors Foundation does in Kenya. After talking for almost five minutes or so. One of the gentleman looked at me and said, so, what you do is ” A person who wants to start a small business comes to your team with an idea, she gets training on how to implement the idea, she is encouraged to save whenever small she has, after six months, she is given capital to start a small business?” I said, exactly!

As we both looked at each other in agreement, I added one point, ” this are individuals that banks cannot lend money to because they don’t have collateral” he nodded his head in agreement.

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