In the rural areas of Kenya, men do not have a good reputation as many move to cities to find work, spend most of their pay and send little or nothing back to their families. Others go so far as to marry other women and have a second family in the city.
With experience, Fadhili has found the savings groups work well if, of the five officers (chairperson, box keeper, secretary and two counters), only one can be male. In a group of women, males tend to dominate so this restriction keeps the balance.
It takes a lot of courage for a man to join a women’s savings group. Men who associate in public with females are considered “sissies” and ridiculed. Fortunately a few brave men are changing this.
Kiio Kitiko is one of those brave men. What follows is a transcript of an interview some Fadhili supporters conducted with him.
Tell us about your family? – I am married, a father of two, a girl and a boy. My girl is in Form 1 and my boy is in class 8.
Tell us about your life before you joined the VSL group. – Before joining the group, I had two tanks. I would fetch water and sell it but I used the money in ways that were not beneficial to the family.
Since I have joined the group, now the money I am getting I am saving in the group. When I first started saving, I saved 2000 shillings, got a loan (from the group) and bought 5 chickens. I can also get a loan for 500 shillings to buy food for the chickens.
What do you do with the chickens? – I sell meat and eggs. I sold 8 chickens this Christmas and now I am raising chicks of my own.
How does your wife feel about you being in the group? – (He laughs) My wife is happy because she is a green grocer (has her own grocery business) and we share the loans.
Why did you join the group? – I saw it was a good group to help me with savings and my money is secure.
How did you feel about joining a group of women? – (He laughs) I was afraid to join but it has been a good place for me.
What are your goals for the future? – I want to expand my poultry business to 100 chickens by the end of this year.
What do you want to tell our people about your story? – When you go back home, you tell your people we are grateful for the work you (through Tearfund and Fadhili Trust) have done for us. Tell them the people are “able”, because they have started some businesses and their families are stable.