One woman’s story, told by Father William Musando, Village Business Mentor, Kenya:
A woman in my village lost her husband. Soon after I conducted his memorial service, I met this widow again on the road. She was very low, saying, “Father, promise me that, when I die, you won’t abandon me–that you will come and bury me. I’m very sick with nothing to eat. The children are sick with HIV, and I don’t know what to do.”
But I knew something she could do. I gave her encouragement, and told her how, through Village Enterprise, she could start a small business and empower herself.
She spoke with several other women about forming a business, and they agreed to try. She had unused skills as a tailor. The women decided they would repair old clothes and also sew new ones. They used their grant to rent a sewing machine and buy cloth.
Now her group runs a full-service tailoring business and has a permanent shop in the local village market. They have diversified their business, and also sell vegetables.
The business has transformed the lives of this woman and her family. Her four young children now attend school. Through the profits of her business, she now can afford to sustain her family with healthy food, good clothing and education, and medical treatment.
Most importantly, she no longer lives in fear! She had no hope or concept of a future. Today, she feels a part of her community and interacts freely with others. Within a month of starting her business, she told me “Father, I think you’ve done for me a great thing. I now know I can change my life.”
Her story does not end here. Now she empowers others in the community by volunteering to teach sewing in our local vocational school, so that they, too, can live a life of hope and dignity.
Two-thirds of Village Enterprise business owners are women.
75% of Village Enterprise businesses are still in operation after 4 years.