Posts tagged Business Grants
Location, Location, Location!

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 and Mama Steven working together
Mama Saidi and Mama Steven working together

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.

Mama Saidi with Simon and her solar panels
Mama Saidi with Simon and her solar panels

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!

Every cloud... Mama Saidi makes the most of power cuts!

Recently Mtwapa has been hit by lots of power cuts regularly throughout the day and night... this sounds like bad news doesn't it? Not if you run the only Solar Powered mobile phone charging stop in Mtomondoni!

Mama Saidi is making the most of the power cuts by charging extra when there is no power elsewhere in the town!

Her fledgling business is growing steadily and Rieder is supporting her to continue managing the savings to provide for her family. He is also looking into other locations for the family to live at her request, so that she has more passing trade.

We hope that soon she will make enough to pay kindergarten school fees for Simon, Saidi's younger brother. Stay tuned for more updates soon!

Mama Saidi with Simon and her solar panels
Mama Saidi with Simon and her solar panels
Milele Business Grants - Food

Hi All, In this episode of the Milele Business Grants series we are going to focus in on a few of the food businesses which have been setup or expanded with the help of a business grant.

The takeaway food industry in Mtwapa is really vibrant, if you walk down almost any street you will find someone selling some kind of food. Whether it's sweet kiamati in the morning, chipati and beans at lunch time or fried pili-pili fish (straight from the fishing boats) in the evening; there's always something interesting.

Local Fried Fish

The popularity of takeaway food makes it a really good option for those who have received a business grant. With a small investment to buy equipment and ingredients, the family can use their existing skills to cook up some tasty treats and be making money by the end of the day. Best of all, if there's any unsold stock the family can eat it for dinner so it's rare that any food gets wasted.

Fauzia, the mother of Ummy, who is sponsored on the Milele programme, received a business grant to set up a food business and is making a huge success of it.  I'd like to take you through a typical day so you can get an idea of just how hard she works!

Fauzia begins her day at around 5:00 am when she starts cooking so she can catch the early breakfast trade. She makes a few different dishes at breakfast time but by far the most popular is Mahamri; which is a triangular shaped savoury donut that I particularly like to dip in sweet tea! She cooks hundreds of these every morning and sells them directly to her customers as they walk by the stall.

At around 10:00 am she packs up her breakfast stall and makes her way to the local fish market where she buys several kilos of small fish. She cooks the fish in a large curved pan filled with bubbling oil, by the time the fish come out they are golden and crispy, the perfect addition to rice or ugali. After a few hours cooking fish, Fauzia cleans up and starts preparing for dinner.

In the evening, Fauzia mainly cooks a type of spiced potatoes which are usually accompanied by greens and perhaps some meat or fish. After a few more hours of cooking and selling Fauzia is done for the day, all that is left to do is pop to the market to buy the ingredients for tomorrow... and cook dinner for her family!

Fauzia Cooking

Fauzia is one of the hardest workers I have ever met, not only does she take every possible opportunity to make the money she needs to support her family, but she does it 7 days a week. Fauzia is making a good living for her self and her family and they are now able to achieve things which were not previously possible.

What's amazing is that Fauzia is not alone in working this hard, many of the other business grant beneficiaries work just as hard and are becoming just as successful!

Thanks for reading,


Milele Business Grants - Charcoal

Hi All, 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 and her 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.

Khadija with some of her family

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!