Submitted by Lily Lahiri – Mwanzo Board Member
One of the major projects run by the MEPF is their Table Banking (microfinancing) program. Your donations have helped to fund the principal for these loans. In this space, I can only begin to convey the heartwarming stories of lives changed due to this group.
Education: Risper Ongayo, an elderly widow, who supports 10 children, borrowed money to help feed them in the evening after school, and during the school holiday when they weren’t getting two warm meals at school. Gilbert and Judith, who have seven children, used their loan to pay high school fees for two of the children. Janet, a widow with seven children in her care, paid past-due school fees, so that her daughter, Christine, could receive her high school certificate, which had been held back due to the outstanding balance. Fifty-seven children have been able to proceed with their education at all levels due to these loans.
Agriculture: Millicent Opundo, a widow with three children, expanded her chicken business and, with her earnings, was able to renovate her home and pay school fees for her high-school daughter. All of the MEPF members used a bit of the money for food security. This is especially critical for those members with HIV/AIDS who must take their medicine with food.
Business: MEPF stands for Mwanzo Energetic Proud Farmers, and energetic they are. These hard-working women created the catering business, and their savings and loan association (Table Banking) to build community sustainability through their group and individual energetic enterprises. Jane Okeyo and Pamela Omondi each scaled up their businesses, making themselves and the broader community more prosperous. Jane added extra stock in her small kiosk in Kadongo village, increasing her profit, so she could pay her family’s hospital bills. Pamela opened a shop as well as a M-EPSA (a mobile banking facility) in Rabuor. This allows her to earn more and provides local access to financial services, improving the local economy! Most financial transactions in Kenya are made through M-EPSAs. Pamela supports the community by teaching elders how to avoid scams, which makes them feel safe and know her true reliability.
Unlike most microfinance services, where borrowers pay around 25% interest, the Table Banking loans are granted with an interest rate of 10%. This builds the fund, while serving the community in transformative ways.
On the day when Janet wrote her report, the MEPF members were doing a thorough cleaning of tents and other catering utensils. She mentioned that they recently celebrated their patron, Mama Rosemell, and purchased new tables and a tent from their microfinance and catering savings. They asked her to convey their “total appreciation from MEPF members for the impact in their lives.”