Members of Kata Shona Group at their workplace. [FILE]

Fifteen female traders based at Gikomba market are supported by the Women Enterprise Fund to establish a thriving business

By George Gichuki

Shortage  of capital  often   kills  the  dreams   of   many  people  keen  on  excelling  in  entrepreneurship.  This  challenge is mainly faced by   women  who  traditionally  are  not  custodians  of  collateral  securities  ( like  title  deeds)   which  they  can  use  in order to access  credit   from  financial  institutions.   Caught up in that predicament,  most  women  form   groups    which  they  use  as  vehicles  of   pooling   money on a  regular   basis. Once collected, this money is given to the members rotationally in a model that is popularly   known as ‘merry go round.’   In the same breath, these members are also able to lend money to one another through the table banking model.  Often, raising capital through these models is a laborious exercise that   requires a lot of patience and prudence.   Rarely do these members raise sufficient funds.

In 2008,  thirty five  women engaged in   tailoring business   at Gikomba market joined hands to establish a group through which they would use  to   raise  capital. They christened the group Kata Shona (Kiswahili words for cut and sew).  The group mainly focused   on table banking.  Currently, Kata Shona comprises fifteen members.   These members purchase second hand clothes from Gikomba market. 

Then, they cut and modify them to various outfits including trouser suits for children (made from old sweaters) as well as women skirts from old trousers (mainly used by rural women in church choirs).  These  products   are  distributed  to  customers  in  different counties   including  Murang’a ,  Trans Nzoia, Narok, Kericho, Bomet and Turkana  via courier.   The wholesale and retail   customers living in Nairobi and its environs buy the items directly   from these tailors.  On average, each tailor sells items worth Kshs. 100,000 per month. 

Partnering with the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF)

After joining WEF, these traders were trained for three days on how to manage their businesses.  Upon the completion of this training, they were awarded a certificate which they used to open a bank account.   The first loan from WEF was Kshs. 100,000. They shared it equally.  After settling the same,   they were   loaned Kshs. 200,000, followed by Kshs. 350,000. Their third loan was 350,000, while   the fourth one was Kshs. 500,000.  Currently, they are servicing their second loan amounting to Kshs. 750,000 (the highest amount on offer by WEF).

The fifteen ambitious tailors are all women. They work from dawn to dusk (Monday to Saturday) because their business is labour intensive.  They bank money on a weekly basis in the group account which they use to service their loans.   All the loans from WEF are also deposited in this account.

Besides financing, they have been supported by WEF to attend local trade fairs, gaining a lot of knowledge on how to manage their businesses in the process.


The recent   ban on the importation of second hand clothes by the Kenyan government   due to the Covid-19 pandemic led to a big   shortage of raw materials used by these traders.   Consequently, the prices of these raw materials have gone up.  In the same breath, they have laid off some of their employees due to a slowdown in business. 

Secondly, these traders used pay an annual licence per stall to the County Government of Nairobi.  Nevertheless, they are currently being charged a daily fee which is eating into their profits since it is very high. They have also been incurring losses due to the frequent fire outbreaks at Gikomba market.


This group is planning to buy a piece of land and subdivide it among its members   so that they can put up their own houses instead of living under the mercy of landlords and landladies. In   the same vein, they are looking  forward   to establishing   a big shop which they shall stock with trendy clothes from different parts of the world hence making handsome profits. 



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