Today was another amazing experience as three of us went to discover how BDS (Business Development Services) and Micro Financing was being used to lift up the people of Mathare Valley. The morning started with an overview meeting with the Missions of Hope director of the programs. She explained in detail how it all worked together to help entrepreneurs start or expand a business.
The loan of seed money, to the people that qualify, gives them the initial help that they need. However, accountability, that’s built into the qualifying process, is the key to it’s success.
They meet weekly with an accountability group of other business owners and a MoHI loan officer. They not only make the commitment for repayment of their loan, but they also agree to pay into individual savings accounts. Officers are elected in the groups and the business owners are accountable to each other for loan repayments, savings deposits and working together to insure the success of each business.
Later, we went with one of the Loan Officers, Abraham, to attend several of the weekly meetings and see how the repayment process worked in the area. At each meeting, the business owners introduced themselves and told us the type of business they owned. We in turn told them about ourselves and asked them if we could pray for them before we left. We reminded them we would continue praying for them when we returned home.
After the group meetings, we visited some of their businesses. It was was such a blessing to see the pride on their faces as they showed us around and explained what they did in more detail. They were fulfilling their dream and planning for their future through God’s help, their hard work, and accountability.
Through the course of the day we met with owners of a Sock & Shoe Stand, Salon, Produce Shop, Fish Market, Kerosene Shop, Electronic Repair Shop, Tailoring Shop, Hotel and Restaurant. It was such a variety, yet they all were very similar too.
Most of these businesses were women owned. The Tailoring Shop was particularly interesting because they were one of the longest running businesses. Plus the owner expanded to using her shop as a school for training future tailors. She was giving back to the community.
God IS at work in the Mathare Valley, although at first glance it was hard for us to see.