Financial inclusion is an important factor for improving women’s economic empowerment, fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development. But women living in poverty, and other marginalised groups in Kenya, witness on all hinders they face on accessing the financial systems. Fadhili Trust seeks to provide simple savings and loans facilities in and by the communities that do not have access to formal financial services. This helps the community to diversify their livelihood sources in order to meet their social, health and economic needs.
Agnes Kithuka from Uthasyo VSL group joined the VSL project in February 2019. She is a 59-year-old mother from Nguumo Ward, Kaunguni sub-location. Before joining the project, Agnes used to save with a micro-finance where she lost all her savings after guaranteeing a member a loan who defaulted his loan. All her savings were retained for repayment of the loan.
She then went seeking for a VSL project that will help her to save and borrow in a structured, flexible and affordable terms with minimal risk in order to start a small business (IGA).Her main motivation was saving for her children school fees. Our organization through the VSL groups offered just that and more.
To date, she has managed to save and borrowed her first loan of five thousand shillings (KES 5,000) and bought a goat for breeding and two chicken which have already multiplied leading her to start a poultry keeping IGA. Her children school fees have never been late in terms of payment, and she owns more than ten goats and a good number of chickens.
Farmers have been greatly affected by the covid 19 pandemic. The government-imposed Lockdowns and curfews have disrupted both demand and supply of the agricultural product due to market inaccessibility. Women farmers are agents of change and critical players in the food production system. However, they continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 has devasted their role in the agricultural value chains. They struggle to access agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, farm equipment, and seeds and markets for their produce. This is the case for Agnes Kithuka and other women.
Due to the pandemic, her VSL group meetings were suspended and saving activities interrupted. Before the pandemic, she used to sell some of her goats at the marketplace, but that business was put on hold as there were no customers due to the market closure.
By working with our organization, Agnes and her VSL members have started saving using daily slot method since they did not hold physical group meetings as the government measures had banned all forms of social gatherings. The group continued with daily slots saving in order to give every member the opportunity to save at the box keeper’s homestead until the measures were a bit relaxed.Fadhili provided buckets, hand washing soap and face mask to the project farmers