Inter-Religious Council of Kenya Mararo Avenue off Gitanga Road
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Fatma Saidi, a 60 year old disabled woman, lives with five of her family members in an old two roomed wooden house in Bula Pesa area of Isiolo town; the house also doubles up as her tailoring shop. After her sister passed on, she was forced to take care of the orphans left behind. Close to 20 years now, she has been working hard to make ends meet, and tried to secure a better future for these children. Department of Social Services gave her a sewing machine and trained her on tailoring.
Over the years she has been struggling to put food on the table for herself and her family members and seeing her sisters’ children through school. All along she clung onto tailoring as the sole source of livelihood against all odds; she had to work. In the most recent clashes which hit the area, some of her tailoring materials and clothes for trading were stolen as they were forced to flee leaving the house unattended to. Luckily, her sewing machine was not stolen, and therefore the hope of shouldering the burden of the family and providing for them remained.
In the year 2012, IRCK offered Kshs 8000 to Fatma as an Income Generating Activity (IGA) small grant this was part of initiative supported by Religion for Peace (RfP). She used the money to buy women dresses locally called “Dhira” and selling them to her neighbors at a profit. She has been using the proceeds from this trading business and her tailoring activity to buy items / materials she requires to maintain and expand her IGA. A huge part of the proceeds goes to taking care of her family needs hindering the rapid growth of her business. Fatma has however managed to instill strict financial discipline, managing to take care of her family and at the same time keeping the IGA afloat.
Fatma explains the benefit of the IGA grant, “With the money IRCK gave me, I managed to expand my IGA and therefore contributing to better profits…I used the profit to buy a mortar at Kshs 3000 which was installed in my sewing machine for automation…it is no longer manual, it used to be very tiring because of my disability…Secondly i use the profit to pay school fees for my sisters’ children, of course with the help of bursaries from Constituency Development Fund( CDF) and other well wishers..The grant has improved my business; it has really improved my life…”
Fatma’s story is that of success and resilience. She continues to work hard to provide for her family members and tirelessly work towards growth of her Income Generating Activity. This is despite the heavy family burden she shoulders. Having seen the benefit of access to capital in boosting her business, Fatma has joined other enterprise fund networks. For example she is a member of table banking group in Bula Pesa. She hopes for more support from Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, especially in terms of capacity building training on financial management; since she is disabled it has been difficult for her to attend such trainings which are usually held far from her house. She also prays and hopes for more IGA grants or small loans to expand her IGA and secure a better future for her family.