Four years since its establishment, Joyful Women Organisation has grown steadily to support the welfare of women countrywide in the fight against poverty.
The organisation (JOYWO) started with 1,000 members in Uasin Gishu County but has since spread to other regions, thanks to the table banking concept that allows members to save and access loans.
The group’s funds have also increased substantially in the four years to Sh425 million from a Sh6 million revolving fund.
“This money has mainly grown from the interest that we get from our members when they pay back, loans” JOYWO’s chief executive, Ms Emily Ngetich, told Money.
Its membership now stands at over 100,000.
The organisation’s founder, Mrs Rachel Ruto, says she came up with the idea to help women in her rural home access money to start businesses.
By recognising the interests of women in rural areas, the group has helped its members grow their ventures into large-scale investments and access markets.
“Our objective as women should be to use every opportunity available to engage in income-generating activities which can uplift our living standards. This can be done if we embrace table banking,” said Mrs Ruto.
It has also assisted the women in making business proposals and drawing up investment plans to enable them benefit from financial institutions.
“The women need to have clear plans on what they want to do to enable them secure sufficient capital to sustain their operations,” she noted.
Bandiat women’s group, which engages in dairy farming, is among the teams that have benefited from table banking.
“We can now access loans to start our own businesses unlike before when we depended on our husbands for almost everything in our family,” said Mrs Tecla Kimeto, a Bandiat member and beneficiary of the scheme.
She says two years ago, her family depended entirely on her husband for its financial needs until she joined hands with other women to form Bandiat women’s group.
The dairy project now enables her to do most of the things she previously relied on her husband to finance.
She also credits her success to the low interest rate of about 10 per cent charged on loans.
Some members of the group also rear poultry after receiving modern breeding skills and marketing strategies through JOYWO.
“I decided to join Funguo women to grow vegetables, onions, sorghum, maize, and bananas,” says Ms Anne Wandere, a horticulture farmer in Likuyani, Kakamega County.
Ms Wandere started with a Sh15,000 loan to cultivate bananas and vegetables on her farm.
The venture broke even after four years and she has been able to educate her four children from its proceeds.
On her part, Ms Mary Wamboi, also a JOYWO member, got a loan from the organisation to expand her poultry business.
Through the financial boost, she has seen her flock grow to over 150 birds.
“I started with a loan of Sh2,000 before I later took another one of Sh100,000 to increase the number of poultry in my farm. As we speak now, the hens I have are enough to take care of the needs of my family,” she said.
“I can now feed my family, pay school fees, and do what the wealthy do,” says Ms Wamboi, adding: “I am now able to farm or care for my children. I can afford health insurance and I can go to the health centre without seeking financial assistance from anybody.”
After seeing her property and business get destroyed during the 2007/08 post-election violence, Elizabeth Langat joined the Faith Sotet women’s group and, together with other members, invested in income-generating activities.
“We invested in the business of making decorated calabashes for local and foreign markets such as Rwanda and Malaysia after securing loans from JOYWO for the investment,” she said.
Some men are also members in JOYWO although they receive limited privileges. For instance, they are not allowed to hold any official positions in its leadership.