As you know, Just Small Change is a microfinance charity that supports some of the poorest parts of the world. Peter and Jane Donaghue founded the organisation in 2011 and we are proud to call the couple as firm friends of ours. We are equally proud to support the charity, and we have donated to the organisation through lots of varied ways including a percentage of the money raised from the sales of our bottled water. We are always pleased to hear of success stories from the charity, and we’re delighted to now present another positive update from Kisumu in Kenya.
Steady success recorded in Kisumu, Kenya.
Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya with a population of 1.1 million, is highly regarded as one of the poorest parts of the world. A staggering 60%
of this figure lives in informal settlements, to which the vast majority are in abject poverty. Kisumu is severely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic: 19.9% of people in the county are affected by HIV which is three and half times the Kenyan national average, and it’s responsible for 9.5% of the entire HIV-affected population of Kenya.
Just Small Change has helped make a difference, however.
OLPS (Our Lady of Perpetual Support) and NGO are the organisation’s partners that operate in Kisumu, and they offer support to those living with HIV/AIDS, by offering testing, support and health clinics. They are embedded in the local community, and they were chosen due to the professionality and integrity they show in their day to day role. They also develop the Livelihood Support Project. This partnership builds on the work of OLPS and aims to make the most of the money that has been raised for the underprivileged areas of East Africa. The projects’ aim is parallel to that of Just Small Change, to develop a sustainable microfinance scheme.
Positive facts and figures behind the organisation.
Just Small Change has recorded some positive facts and figures over the last three years, which concluded in March 2018. Here are just a few:
- One full time microfinance professional has been employed and all her salary and overhead costs met.
- 25 neighbourhood trust groups have been formed of 5-6 clients each.
- 142 clients have received loans.
- 142 clients have received ongoing mentoring and support in running their businesses.
- Since the projects start, 95% of the funds provided by Just Small Change have been re-loaned, ready to benefit more families and communities.
The difference Just Small Change has made in Kisumu.
The organisation has made a difference in five key areas.
After interviewing 78 clients in March 2018, there was an average income increase of 130.3% a week. This equates to £4.78. This was mostly spent on providing an improved diet for their families and education for their children, which included school fees and uniform. Having an increased income has improved the clients self-esteem, while many have reported a decrease in domestic violence due to the earning more money.
All clients who were interviewed said they had found the 5 day business training very useful, with money management one of the most important topics. There have been many workshops set up, including how to deal with different types of customers.
Neighbourhood trust groups have been supporting the clients, and are reported to have been very helpful. The groups are available to share advice on topics such as business, health and family matters, and are often on hand to provide emotional and financial support in addition. Below is a positive comment shared from a client:
“It’s very helpful. I like sharing ideas, seeing what works for others. If one of us is down (in spirits), another is up and (this) can encourage us. We are all neighbours and see each other often.”
Mentoring is vital in helping clients overcome the difficulties they often face in day to day life. Examples of support include accompanying a client to protest a proposed rent rise, and helping a client to identify alternative supply sources when the weather affected stock.
There was evidence gathered from the medical staff at OLPS, who work closely with HIV+ clients. They have reported that the higher income the clients have enjoyed has led to reduced stress and better diet, and hope for the future has generally attributed to an increased determination to maintain better physical health for their patients.
Impact stories in Kisumu.
Keziah and Charles.
Both orphans, Keziah and Charles are a married couple with little baby Gerry aged one. Prior to joining the project, the family were forced to live off Charles’ small wage that he collected from riding a bicycle taxi, and it proved extremely tough to make ends meet.
The project coordinator arranged for Keziah to attend a 2 week training course in beadwork, where Keziah learned how to make rosaries and bead necklaces. After teaching her husband, the couple now sell their products at a margin of over 100%, and the profits have enabled them to buy a very small home and increase their stock level.
The larger income has improved the families’ accommodation and diet, and their mental health has dramatically improved.
Damaris is a widow with four dependents. For many years prior to joining the project, she couldn’t afford food for herself or her children due to collecting a poor wage from washing and braiding hair. A hand injury then forced Damaris to give this up altogether, making her entirely destitute.
Help from The Livelihood Support Project, along with Damaris’ remarkably positive attitude, has enabled her to set up a small business making liquid soap, which apparently receives a ‘steady demand’. Damaris is now a regular supplier at a local hotel, and she has used some of her profits to get a hen house built for her chickens. The eggs and chickens bring further income, as well as providing food for her family.
In addition, Damaris can now afford to send her children to school, as well as feed and clothe them.
Vivian, aged just 19, is one of the youngest borrowers. She is an orphan who is the head of her family, and now successfully operates a fruit and vegetable stall in a local slum. She thoroughly enjoys it.
The profits she collects means she can pay rent on the family home, and feed herself and her family. Furthermore, Vivian is able to pay one set of school fees and pay for her part time business degree at the local university in Kisumu.
She hopes to grow her business and become a very successful business woman in years to come.
Philgona is a widow with six children, and also has to look after her late sisters’ orphan. Prior to joining the project, Philgona had to wash for people in order to get by, but help from The Livelihood Support Project means she now enjoys a better quality of life trading young goats.
The profits pay for better food and for school fees for some of her children.
Continuing to support Just Small Change.
It’s fantastic to hear of the good work Just Small Change is doing, and how they are making a difference to the lives who desperately need the help. We are regularly in contact with Peter and Jane, and it was only a few months ago that we presented the £1500 cheque that we had raised from our 55thparty night in January. We look forward to further updates in the future.