A Thousand Reasons to Smile

The Alrahma Women’s Group have a mantra – “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

At a time when many people in Kenya are awash with worry over the rate of high poverty within the community, the Alrahma Women’s Group are taking matters - and their wealth - into their own hands.

The group brings together women in the community who are struggling with the same life challenges of living within a dollar a day. The group was initially started as a way to socialize; as a respite from daily life, and a way to keep friendships and relationship alive. However, along the way, Mary, a member of the group came across another group that had received training through the SOS Family Strengthening program (FSP), in income generating activities. This became the turning point of the group to want to empower each other economically.

Capacity building

The group was introduced to the FSP, and once vetted, the women took part in training sessions in business and financial management, and entrepreneurship. Armed with the capacity to take on a business, the group evaluated their strength and decided to venture into outdoor catering services. With the support of the FSP, the group idea was refined and a business plan was developed analyze the viability of the business.

They started by making 2 dollar savings from each member on a monthly basis from their meagre earnings. This acted as the initial investment from which they were able to buy one tent and 50 plastic chairs.  Little by little they continued with their savings plan, in addition to the income they generated from hiring out the chairs and tents. To expand their business, the group was ultimately linked to an organization that offered social grants. 

Strict discipline

Despite the change that the success of the group has had on the lives of members, it was expected that each member attend meetings and trainings faithfully, continue to work hard, and have a transparent accounting system. As a result of this discipline, the group was able to buy two more tents with a capacity of a hundred people and an additional two hundred chairs. With the number of ceremonies and events that take place in the town of Kisumu and its surroundings, the group found themselves a profitable business opportunity, and gained the edge over their business rivals through widespread marketing of their services.

Today, the group is registered by the government under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development. It is able to loan it’s members money at a minimal interest rate, and offer outdoor catering in addition to hiring out of their chairs and tents. The group is also giving back to the community, by supporting children in need with schools fees and the purchase of school uniforms. At the end of the year part of the profit is shared among the members and the rest is put back into the group fund to boost up the business.

For more inspiring stories, and to learn more about the SOS Family Strengthening Program, click here.