Last year, some of you may remember that we helped both Saidi’s mum and Steven’s mum to start new businesses; so we were excited to find out how they were getting on.
Mama Steven, after some initial help from Rieder, is now up and running with her charcoal business and is regularly making enough money to support herself and Steven with their essentials such as food and household items. But the best thing of all is Mama Steven’s new attitude towards the business. A recent ban on plastic bags, which she uses to package the charcoal, could have caused her to loose customers but she quickly worked out an alternative solution and has started to put it into place BEFORE running out of plastic bags! This showed us that her understanding of how to run a business has really grown over the last year – she now knows the importance of customers being able to rely on her stocks. Not content with resting on her laurels, Mama Steven is also very keen to expand the business and thinks she might be able to double the amount she sells with a better location.
Mama Saidi has also made some excellent progress with the solar panel business. She has definitely mastered the equipment (which is no mean feat for someone who has never had electricity at home!) and has got the hang of charging people and keeping records. At times, her business has been booming – such as when the next-door house was being built and there were tradesmen there all day needing their phones charging. She also makes some good sales at the weekends and when the power is out. However, she told us that recently new electricity lines to the local area have meant that many of her neighbours now have power to their homes. Of course this is great progress for the community as a whole, but it does mean they now no longer need to pay for phone charging, so she relies mostly on passing trade from people whose phone batteries have died whilst out and about.
Recently, their landlord has made some changes to the neighbouring properties and they feel it is no longer such a great place to live. We think this presents a good opportunity for the families to relocate to a slightly different area, which could be better for their businesses. Currently their location is not ideal as they are tucked away behind the main road and no one passing would know they were there and open for trade. A move could mean both families have better visibility from the road and would be able to maximise their sales.
Watch this space – we will keep you updated with any new location developments!
In a previous post we mentioned that Mama Steven was keen to start her own business selling charcoal. As promised, we wanted to tell you a bit more about it.
We have known Steven and his mother for quite some time; so we were aware that they are a very vulnerable family with little in the way of support. We wanted to give Mama Steven the chance she needed to provide for herself and Steven independently in the long term.
The business involves buying a large sack of charcoal at wholesale prices from the forest, transporting it to Mtwapa and then dividing the charcoal into small bags which she sells in the community. Charcoal is widely used for cooking in Mtwapa and there is a lot of money to be made selling small convenient bags.
This is very similar to the business Mama Saidi successfully ran last year and she has been very keen to share her knowledge and experience with Mama Steven, so she has a mentor right next door!
Rieder (Milele sponsorship co-ordinator) has also been helping her, visiting each evening to see whether she has been able to make any sales, helping to record her takings and to calculate how much from each sale she needs to put aside to buy the next bag of charcoal.
So far she has begun to establish her reputation and has made some early sales, she is hoping to build a link with one of the local shops who will buy the small bags of charcoal from her as a regular customer. Hopefully with time, she will be able to make enough money to support herself and Steven, paying the rent and putting food on the table.
In the first of our Milele Business Grants series we are going to meet Khadija and her family. Khadija was one of the first to receive a Milele Business Grant and decided to set up a business focused on one of the most fundamental of human needs, Fire.
Khadija is the mother of Saidi who is one of the children on the sponsorship programme. You may remember that when we first met Saidi he was living in a very run down building and his whole family were severely malnourished. As well as providing emergency assistance we wanted to find a sustainable way for Khadija to support her family.
Khadija desperately wanted to find work but she suffers from a rare form of Polio which had left her unable to walk, this meant that the usual forms of employment were not open to her. After spending some time talking through the options it seemed that the best idea was to open a business which Khadija could run from home and Rieder proposed the idea of selling Charcoal.
Khadija buys large sacks of charcoal from a wholesaler; she then breaks up the bigger pieces of charcoal, packs it into small bags and sells to local families. The small bags of charcoal are really popular as they are they are the perfect size to cook one meal over a small stove called a Jiko.
Khadija and her family received a small start up grant to buy their first sack of charcoal back in 2013. With Rieder’s help, she has learnt how to run her own business and has started to make enough money to support her family. Over the years Khadija has built up a number of loyal customers and she can now sell a large sack of charcoal in as little as a week.
When we visited Khadija we asked her what she had been able to do with her money. As well as feeding and clothing her and her 5 children she has also been able to secure school places for her children and make some household purchases. Her home is now furnished with 3 plastic chairs and she has been able to invest in not only a new Jiko but a gas powered hob which she uses when it rains so she can safely cook inside.
Astonishingly, we have not got to the best part yet. When we visited Khadija a year or so after starting her business we found the family at their new home happily sitting outside on their new chairs. When Khadijha invited us inside we were amazed to see her stand and walk with the aid of a stick; being able to eat properly has given her enough strength to get around the house and immediate area. This is more than we could have hoped for and has transformed Khadija’s life for the better!
Welcome to our monthly updates. I would like to appreciate the good work you have been doing so far and making everything run well. A big thank you to all as you have been doing a really good work towards Milele programme. We managed to complete the classes at Royal Academy and also made 12 chairs and 2 big tables for the kindergarten pupils at the school – donated by the TEAMS group.
The director of the school really appreciated your effort of supporting the school as most of the pupils are not capable of paying school fees regularly. He also wished to thank everyone through Milele program and the good work Milele directors are doing.
We have been also giving out mosquito nets to a certain village around Royal Academy most of the families had no mosquito nets. Through your donations these needy families were able to receive a mosquito net each. Around 61 families got the nets.
We all know how the mosquito nets are important mostly to the infants and the younger kids below the age of 5yrs. As for the coming month we are expecting long rains thus you did save some lives and saved the next leader in the society. We really appreciate your effort towards this program.
We have been also monitoring our chicken project at Shanzu and charcoal business at Mtomondoni (new businesses for two of the families on the sponsorship program) and they are all doing well and they are looking forward to starting to make a living using the projects. We also say thanks a lot for making it happen.
We have our elder girl Josephine she managed to complete her primary education and secured a place at secondary school very soon she will be at school. All our sponsored kids are doing well and for now they have started their end of month exam. Thanks a lot for your support towards us may almighty bless you all.