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.