Simon Njoroge age 31 is a fruit vendor at town Limuru in Kiambu County, Limuru is a beautiful town with farming as its main economic activity, Simon is the first born in a family of six, having not completed his education he helped his parents around their fruit kiosk and later moved to Nairobi where he was employed as a tout, Simon was employed for three years and he eventually wanted to be self-employed so he saved some money and went back home to start a trade he knew too well since he grew up doing it. Business was not going as planned because just like many startups he was faced with challenges such as not being able to tell who his customers were, having a bad attitude towards his customers just to mention a few.
In February this year Project Heshima was launched in Limuru and Simon was one of the beneficiaries in its cycle one intake. Having attended all the sessions and putting to practice the lessons learnt Simon has seen changes in his businesses, his attitude shifted drastically and he learnt to treat his customers with respect, record keeping was a very vital lesson learnt and he is now able to keep tract of his finances. Simon says he has seen his life change in the 10 week session and has a positive approach towards life and is now more hopeful since he can now do business from an informed perspective and also understands that this will be a long term journey for him and his business.
Caroline Achieng Okello is 34 years old from Koyugi Location in Kandiege, Homa Bay County.
Achieng had toiled with the idea of starting her own business for far too long and only needed the extra motivation and push that the Project Heshima offered. Trough the project she underwent a tailoring training. From the technical knowledge acquired and the guidance of on small business management, she was confident to start small and grow big.
Armed with a sewing machine Achieng looked for a space and started doing repairs and looking for other big clients. In the process she has encountered challenges like delayed payments but vowed to soldier on. She on a good day makes between Ksh. 400-800, an income that now help her meet her basic needs. Being a determined person, she has expansion plans that include acquiring materials for her potential clients, to starting second hand shoes business that she believes would boost her earnings.
Her life revolved around illicit brew! Having become a widow at a tender age, Mary resorted to making illicit brew to feed her family and take her children to school. The villagers nicknamed her ‘Mama Pima’. She crossed paths with the law enforcers and on many occasions found herself locked in police cells to answer charges of making illicit brew.
On some occasions, she drew the wrath of some parents and fellow women who accused her of spoiling their sons and husbands through her illicit trade. She felt insecure at all corners as she lacked respect and privacy even in her own house. Her main worry was the future of her children whom she feared would eventually turn to be consumers of the same brew she was making.
In her testimony at the Kisumu graduation event, Mary said the coming of Project Heshima was a turning point in her life. Narrating her joy through an interpreter at the Kisumu graduation event, Mary had this to say, ‘I saw light through the entrepreneurship trainings I attended. I now run a well-stocked kiosk selling cereals and grocery. On a good day, my sales go to Ksh800 which is far above what I made from illicit brew. I feel a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders. I have regained my self-respect in the village and no longer look behind my back to see who is following me! Thank you, Project Heshima!’’
AiRD employs a market-driven, sustainable social enterprise model for supporting rural projects and enterprises.
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