Until recently, I had been looking at the Village Enterprise program like a person in the desert entranced by a snow globe. I understood my role in making the flakes fall but I couldn’t feel the frost. I couldn’t get close enough to see the beauty in each individual flurry. My week in Kenya changed all of that.
First I visited businesses near the Kisere forest that are just starting our program. The poverty in the region is painfully real. Emma is a widow with a debilitating eye condition who supports ten dependents. A few weeks ago, after three months of business and financial literacy training, Emma and the other members of the Vision Business Group received their grant to buy and sell fish, groundnuts, and fruit. Their business is just starting, but Emma is already full of hope for the future. She told me that the grant has uplifted her but that right now she’s still unsure how she’ll feed her children each day. At the end of our time together, she handed me the four bananas left from the day’s sales to express her gratitude.
It was hard to walk away not knowing what would happen to Emma. The next few days, however, were an opportunity to see Emma’s future through visits to other Village Enterprise business owners such as Harriet Nafula. Harriet used to start her day like Emma, knowing that breakfast for her eleven children would consist of tea without sugar and not knowing what else she might be able to feed them. Now, each day is no longer something for Harriet to dread.
As part of the Rahema Business Group, Harriet runs a kiosk in the center of Moi’s Bridge, Kenya. They sell groundnuts, millet, oranges, avocados, and sweet bananas. Harriet and her fellow business owners have worked hard and sacrificed in order to rent both the kiosk and a storage facility, enabling them to easily add fresh stock to their prime location. The kiosk earns each family about $4/day, putting them all well above the extreme poverty level. And they haven’t even graduated from our program yet!
Thanks to Village Enterprise, Harriet can now give her children breakfast and buy meat for dinner. She even sends shopping money to her son who is away at school! And her produce is fantastic—easily the best avocado I have ever tasted!
Understandably, many of us see poverty as if through a snow globe, a small and faraway world. Please know that with each shake we are covering the ground with a fresh layer of hope. Harriet sums it up best. She told me to please tell the donors of Village Enterprise “thank you for taking away my stress.” She thanks Village Enterprise “for making me who I am.” I will let her words speak for us both.
Marketing Communications Director