BY JOSEPH MUCHIRI
While working as an attendant at a spare parts shop in Embu town, Jane Njeru was constantly flooded with ideas on how to start a similar venture.
She keenly observed the strengths and weaknesses of her employer. What she lacked, though, was capital.
Targeting the poor
It therefore came as a big relief when a friend introduced her to a ‘chama’ through which she got a Sh5,000 loan from a microfinance institution to start her own business.
That was more than a decade ago. Today, Ms Njeru, through sheer hard work and determination, has seen her own shop grow into a major motor vehicle spare parts retailer in Embu.
By strictly following financial advice from experts and exercising prudence in her work, Ms Njeru’s business is now worth millions. She gets and painlessly services loans exceeding Sh5 million.
Just like Ms Njeru, thousands of low- income earners in Gachoka constituency and other parts of the country have benefited from a programme initiated by Plan International in 1992 to uplift standards of living.
The programme mainly targeted the poor. Plan International loaned them Sh5,000 to repay in one year and help their children access education.
Plan International pulled out of the programme in 1997. To stop the project from collapsing, Business Initiatives and Management Assistance Services (Bimas) was instituted as a corporate. It was headed by nine members from the Gachoka community.
Since the new corporate body was meant for charity, just like the parent body, board members were drawn from philanthropists from the community; people who were deemed caring enough to volunteer their services.