Help the small village of Sirikwa to scale up their rural bank system

Eradicating poverty in rural Kenya

Mama-ShhiruMen, women and children were caught up in deadly clashes in 2008 when Kenya experienced a period of ethnic violence after corrupt presidential elections. Many rural people had their farms, houses and even cattle set on fire and more than 600, 000 people were forced to flee into the countryside to escape the intense violence that threatened their communities.

To aggravate the situation, in the recent past it has become increasingly more common for women to be left to raise children on their own after their partners abandon the family. This has left a lot of women to confront extreme poverty alone.

One group of women did make a stand and begun building a better future in the village of Sirikwa, but they now need the resources to scale up their efforts and reach out to even more desperate people.

That’s where we come in.

Action 10 and the Amani group have been working together in Kenya since 2011. We are now supporting the small village of Sirikwa to scale up their rural bank system created by a group of female farmers who have used the money to invest in starting up small businesses with tremendous success.

How we are helping

Amani group have told us that the best way forward for the local community of Sirkwa will be to increase the reach and capacity of their small rural bank. The female farmers, who form the Amani group, started the bank by each member contributing one day’s salary every week into a collective fund.

This capital has been used to loan to entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. With our help, more people will benefit and build a better future for themselves and their family.

Mama Shiru's story on founding Amani women's group

Before the ethnic clashes in 2008, single mother of five Mama Shiru recalls a peaceful co-existence between the different ethnic populations in her village of Sirikwa. Children went to the same school and people shopped in the same market.

However, a corrupt presidential election quickly inflamed ethnic tension and a humanitarian crisis erupted. Poverty-stricken & uneducated people in society were manipulated by rival political parties to unleash violence on the livelihoods of their opponents.

An estimated 600,000 people were displaced

Mama Shiru woke up one morning to see that her house, farm and even her cattle had been set on fire. She had no other choice than to wake her five children and run to take refuge in the forest. The ethnic violence lasted for two months and an estimated 600,000 were displaced.

But Mama Shiru was a strong woman and devised a way to repair the damage that had been done to her community. She called all the women of Sirikwa to start a group called Amani, which means peace. She knew the only means for long-term poverty reduction was to support each other economically and since the women had been driven from their land, they had to work hard on other people’s farms seven days a week.

A collective fund to help women start a business

Mama Shiru knew that many of these women had other dreams than to toil on a farm for the rest of their life. So she told the women that one day’s salary every week was going to be collected from each member of the group to start a fund. All the women were asked to think of a business they would like to start and when they had a good plan to come and present it to the group.

What started as a small, informal rural bank has flourished into many small businesses which have provided the women of Sirikwa a chance for change. The money that is loaned out is paid back in full to be invested in another woman and her dreams of a better future.