Lotorupe’s Story: Building savings, resilience, and a brighter future with DreamSave

Lotorupe lives in the western hills of West Pokot, Kenya, a region known for being particularly impacted by the effects of climate change. Due to the prolonged droughts which are becoming more frequent, livestock die, causing a ripple effect of conflict as neighboring communities fight over remaining goats and cattle. These calamities hit women like Lotorupe the hardest as they face violence, often fleeing their homes to find safety, shelter, and food.

West Pokot, Kenya, where floods and landslides are common during the rainy season. In the dry season, droughts often cause significant damage to crops and livestock.

When Lotorupe joined Village Enterprise, she was 45 years old, a widow, and the primary caretaker for eight children all living together in a small mud house. Having never been to school or owned a business, she struggled to feed her children and pay for their school fees.

But through Village Enterprise, Lotorupe launched a business buying and selling goats alongside two other widows. In a region where women are traditionally not permitted to own animals—nor even allowed near livestock markets—they were collectively challenging what was possible for women in their community. And it worked. Because of the skills and training they learned through Village Enterprise, their business took off. Using the increasing profits from their business, Lotorupe was able to diversify her income by launching an additional business on the side of selling groceries, as well as keeping chickens to earn and save even more.

As a part of the Village Enterprise poverty graduation model, Lotorupe also joined a business savings group—a group of 30 entrepreneurs working together and meeting weekly to build savings, assets, and save for emergencies. Traditionally, the group records are kept in paper books, but as part of our DreamSave pilot program, Lotorupe’s business savings group began keeping all their records on the DreamSave app on a smartphone. This not only helped them maintain more accurate records, but the app sent notifications reminding Lotorupe of her savings targets and even sent celebratory alerts when she reached her goals.

Screenshots from the DreamSave app featuring target goals, savings progress, and fellow group members.

Created by DreamStart Labs, the DreamSave app was piloted by Village Enterprise in 12 communities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Lotorupe loved the app so much that she eventually exceeded her savings targets. Having originally set a target of putting aside $275 USD, she ended up saving $350 USD and was able to build her family a brand new tin-roofed house. She was also able to use her profits to purchase a donkey, which she uses to fetch water and reduce her fatigue, and she has plans to sell the donkey’s offspring to further her return on investment.

Utilizing DreamSave not only encouraged and motivated Lotorupe on her business progress, but it helped her savings group become much more efficient. Their meetings grew shorter, allowing more time for the women to return to operate their businesses or run errands. DreamSave also helped the women increase their literacy skills, and they became more resilient to climate change as a result of their success. Having saved money for emergencies, digitized their records, and purchased household assets, they’re more prepared to handle unprecedented situations.

Lotorupe smiles for a photo as she makes chapati for her family.

It’s been over a year since Lotorupe joined Village Enterprise, and she’s tremendously happy with her business and how much money she’s been able to save because of DreamSave. She’s been able to provide consistent, healthy meals for her children, and is now confident about what the future holds for her family.

Village Enterprise is continuing to expand the DreamSave pilot, with the goal of having all business savings groups on the app by 2025.

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