I recently caught up with Beatrice Adega who I have nominated to be my hero. She is a beneficiary of micro financing in Kibera Slums in Nairobi, Kenya. This is what she had to say about her business venture
QUESTION: How do you raise money for your activities?
BEATRICE: We meet and contribute and loan money to members so they can engage in business. Initially, I used to wash clothes for people from which I got the money I started the biz with. Now I am selling Sukuma Wiki (kales) and charcoal with the loan I got from the group. I have a lot to thank the group for since without it, I wouldn’t be working towards achieving my goals as a business person.
QUESTION: One of the challenges small scale business women face is defaulting once they get loans. How do you pay off the loans the group gives you?
BEATRICE: I use the money I receive from the merry go round carefully by sticking to the budget and plan for my business. I also have groups where I contribute money, about 200 Shillings daily and in a week I have a good amount. Apart from that I also keep and the money I keep in my money box at home. The money box is used in cases of emergencies only.
QUESTION: What do you do to ensure you don’t break the money box say if you get a visitor?
BEATRICE: I make sure I do all to stick to my budget and the intention I have for the money kept in the box. I don’t use it for my personal budgets. It is for the business and it is meant to pay off the loan owed to our group.
QUESTION: Advice to other women in other merry go rounds?
BEATRICE: They have to work together to achieve their own individual goals and learn from others what work. There is truth in the say – united we stand, divided we fall.
QUESTION: What do you think of women leadership?
BEATRICE: I think anyone – be it a woman or a man can be a better leader. What’s important is that they come together to work towards peace, security and stability.
QUESTION: What is your take about tribalism?
BEATRICE: People should respect others and give them the space to be who they are. We all come from somewhere and we should be proud of that fact.
QUESTION: As a woman how important is the Women’s International Day?
BEATRICE: It is a very important day to me since I am proud of being a woman. I am proud of what and who I am a as a woman. Women are also very special and should feel a part of the society just as men.
QUESTION: If you were to talk to all Kibera women what would you tell them?
BEATRICE: Kibera women should not look down upon themselves. They should come out and help one another since the challenges facing them are the same. Women in Kibera lack money and they should come together to uplift their living standards. Donors should come up with training sessions to empower women to know how to manage their lives and affairs. Girls should also get involved so they don’t engage in anti-social behaviors like prostitution.
QUESTION: A word to the Donors?
BEATRICE: I humbly request them to invite us for seminars that will help us improve our lives. We have so many NGOs around but some of them only benefit certain people which shouldn’t be the case. They should work across the board by targeting all tribes in the community.
QUESTION: Future business plans/vision?
BEATRICE: I am seeing myself growing from one business initiative to another. I hope to venture into other areas like importing clothes and taking them upcountry and bringing in farm produce from those areas to the city to sell.
QUESTION: Advice to men who have women doing business?
BEATRICE: Men should give women the space they need to engage in financial activities since women supplement family incomes and at times contribute to the family’s finances.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to International Women's Day 2011: A Call for Heroes.