Ladies of Influence
In June 2011, Dodore Foundation started a project in Kibera (one of Kenya’s biggest slums) with the aims of uplifting mother-headed-families. Dodore started granting a number of poor mother headed families small unconditional gift of around 10 euro every month. This money might seem very small to many of us living in the Netherlands, but can make a lot of difference to these families. With the help of Ken, a former employee of Dodore), the first participant was selected in a hospital as she was undergoing treatment.
This lady started working together with Ken to identify and enroll 12 other women who all fell in the same social strata, for instance, they had no stable income, were widows and most of them were struggling with some chronic health problems. They then settled for ‘Ladies of Influence’ as a name of the group to identify themselves. The women settled for this name because they influence each other to live their lives positively and also support each other at all times. The women started receiving the unconditional grant of Ksh. 1000 (around 10 euros) each and every month. Unconditional means that the foundation did not put any restrictions on the use of the money. Whereas some people might think that it is a bad idea and the money can be m is-used, there is an increasing body of research that shows that when you give a poor mother an unconditional grant, she will put the money to useful use for her and her children. The stories of the ladies of influence on this page are a clear example of this.
The women used the money to empower themselves by starting small business like selling vegetables, snacks, tailoring and hair plaiting; and so the grant helped them expanding their small business and increasing their monthly incomes. This was to help them to be independent by using the profit they make to cater for other needs like paying school fees for their (grand) children.
Unfortunately, one lady passed away and two others dropped out of the group along the way because they were not complying with the group’s rules set out which were as follows; that all the members participate in table banking, helping when one another whenever need arises for instance; financial problems by contributing a small amount of money towards helping the person in need, have discipline and respect each other’s opinion’s during the meetings. The remaining ten women have been receiving the unconditional grant every month for the past four years to date.
Being part of project initiated by Dodore Foundation, the women came up with table-banking. table-banking is a group funding strategy where members of a particular group meet twice every month, place their savings, loan repayments and other contributions on the table then borrow immediately either as long term or short term loans. The women use borrowed capital for their livelihood projects. They contribute of Ksh.100 (Approx. 1 euro) every meeting.
The ladies of influence started Table-banking because they wanted to do something that would bring them together. It is through these meetings that they get to share their life experience, family matters and offer emotional support to each other. This has made them stronger as a group.
The women are grateful to Dodore for the unconditional support.