Economic Empowerment

altIn Nyanza province (Western Kenya), poverty levels are as high as 72%. This is attributed to unemployment at 33% and the increased burden of HIV/AIDS. Nyanza has a particularly high overall HIV/AIDS prevalence of 15%, more than double national levels; with some of its districts reach as high as 26%. Unfortunately this is higher amongst women (23%) as compared to 17% amongst men. This has impacted negatively on the economic livelihood of the population. Those infected are too ill to work consistently while those who are not ill are carers with barely enough time to work. As a result businesses have closed down or not operating at full capacity while those who are employed are not as productive. This is made worse by the high cost involved in caring for PLWA (People living with Aids)

WOI and Omega Foundation have been running economic empowerment activities for PLWA, widows, orphans and other vulnerable children since 1997.  Our aim is to make a substantive difference in their lives by increasing access to economic and business opportunities, providing seed money; providing training and equipment; leveraging support from micro-finance agencies and supporting the setting up of Group Savings and Loan groups.

 

altEconomic Strengthening includes the following ways of working:

  • Increasing access to economic and business opportunities. These vulnerable groups are often discriminated against making it hard to access mainstream services. Through outreaches and referrals, we provide essential information on viable business opportunities, where to access loans for start-ups, and how to manage loans and repayments.
  • Providing seed money to fund viable business ventures and support to income generating activities (IGA). For many the seed fund is the only way they can escape poverty especially widows who have no collateral for security to get loans from banks.
  • Training and equipping PLWAs, Widows and older OVCs with skills to start and manage small businesses. As part of learning we also organize study trips for the beneficiaries to other successful models from which they can learn best practices
  • Partnering with mainstream micro-finance agencies to leverage technical resources in quality assurance, capacity building and monitoring.
  • Initiating and supporting formation of Group Savings and Loan groups amongst Widows’ groups. The basic principle of GS & L is that members of a self-selected group form an Association and save money in the form of shares.  Members contribute regularly to a fund, which is governed by the group itself. Members can save at a rate matched to their capacity, thus lowering the threshold of entry for the poor. This enables members to earn substantial interest on their savings contributions, this approach promotes saving first and credit/loans second and strengthens individual and group capacity to use resources within reach.

Through this project we have been able to help many lives change for the better. The IGA’s have increased the capacity of Widows, PLWA and orphans to become more self reliant and improve their quality of life. One such group that has benefited is the Kibos Prison Neema Support Group.

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