“I used to work in my restaurant from 8:00am to 9:00pm every day, but no matter how many hours I worked I could not earn enough to provide for my four children and my deceased brother’s five children,” Grace, 34, says. Two years ago, her close friend helped her join Akwo Kwene VSLA group. Since then, she has been saving in the group and borrowing small loans to support her business. Today she has become a very strong business woman in her area.
She told us: “I started to save regularly as soon as I joined the group, and now I have expanded my restaurant, which is helping me to pay for my children’s schooling, pay rent for myself and also have control over my money. I was able to take out a loan of 200,000 shillings (about $60) from the group, which I used it to buy more tables and chairs for the restaurant to expand my business and attract more customers. After a while I got so busy that I had to employ three people to help me. I have also started up a small store beside my restaurant where I sell greens and other produce, which will help secure my income and boost my business.
“Through the VSLA, I have learned to focus on my business. I have had to improve my work ethic to be able to contribute to the VSLA. Being a member in the VSLA has really changed my life; my business is very profitable because I can now access capital and as a result I can feed my family well, provide for more than just our basic needs, and pay for the children’s education. I am very proud that my children are studying. I have also acquired a plot of land and plan to use my savings from the next year to build a new brick house to live in.
“I never expected I would stand on my own and be able to manage my own business. It wasn’t easy from the start, but now, with the support of my group, myself and all my children are not lacking anything,” says Grace.