Close your eyes. Imagine yourself five years from now. Tell me what you see.
“Tumefurahi,” sighs Betty Amase with a smile.
“We are happy.”
This is an exercise I do frequently when I meet our business owners. It is useful because often, concrete questions about the changes that they have experienced as a result of the Village Enterprise program are difficult to answer.
“Go on,” I prompt Betty.
“I have a motorbike,” Betty continues, her eyes remaining closed and her smile spreading. “I drive it to town, all by myself, each day to sell my vegetables at the central market.”
“And we have a big house!” adds Betty’s daughter Rachel. “And a cow grazing in the yard!”
“I see that I’m empowered.” Betty says with finality, opening her eyes.
“Men are just not responsible. When things get hard, they leave.” she explains as she cleans her greens, preparing them for sale. “Women, we’re the responsible ones. If there is something needed at home; food, tea, school fees, it’s the woman who is responsible.” Betty’s husband left she and her three daughters several years ago. She struggled to care for their three daughters. The girls had to drop out of school, foregoing their potential path out of the poverty that was crippling their family. Each day, Betty fought to provide enough food for their one simple meal per day.
Betty’s fortunes began to turn when she was invited to join the Village Enterprise program. Together with her two co-business owners in Ushindi (victory in Kiswahili) Business Group, Betty has planted and harvested local greens that she sells in Kitale town. Thanks to her thriving small business, Betty is now financially empowered to take care of her family’s needs and more.
Now, just a few months into her tenure as a small business owner, Betty has sent her oldest daughter to university and is saving to return Rachel to secondary school. Rachel, inspired by her mother’s resilience and success, has high hopes for the future.
“I am going to study business administration and start a business, just like my mother,” she explains.
“Village Enterprise has given us opportunity; that is something we never had before,” Betty shares.
The sense of empowerment Betty has gained, and the opportunities she is now able to provide her daughters with means they eat two meals a day and can afford their basic needs. But more importantly, these opportunities mean the cycle of poverty is broken. The next five years look bright for Betty and her daughters. So do the next ten years and the ten after those.