We were all inspired by our visit to the micro enterprise group that is known as Maono (which means vision). The idea was born when the founder Daisy who has a background in business, was on leave from work after the birth of a child. She was feeling a little bored one day and “coincidentally” three people approached her for a loan that same day. It started her thinking about a micro- enterprise idea. She said to one of the people who had approached her “I will meet with you this evening and bring along any others who may be interested”. About 40 people came and Maono began.
The way it works is that people join small groups and effectively form a bank together. They pool resources and lend money to each other from the mutual fund.
In Nairobi there are 4 million people and 70 percent of those people live in slums. There are one million people living in the slum of Kibera alone. We visited the meeting of two Maono groups in the slum of Karangawe. The dream of Maono is “a world with no slums”. We reached the meeting place by going across a rickety bridge over a drain.
Lee introduced our group to those gathered for the meeting. It was very appropriate that she did so because she used to work for Trust Bank a bank in New Zealand formed for the purpose of community development. It has now been absorbed into the multinational bank Westpac.
The ” solidarity” groups can be made up of 10 to 30 people but smaller groups work better so they usually split when numbers reach 15 people. The group I observed had several people who sell secondhand clothes, someone who burns CDs and sells them, someone who sells clothes door to door, a small grocery shop vendor, a man who makes and sells mandadazis (cakes which are like donuts) and a man who makes chapatis. Each group has its own constitution and rules for the way they operate. The group collected in 1900 Kenya shillings which is a good amount. The money was loaned out to the person who makes chapatis for the purpose of buying more flour. The borrower pays ten percent interest which is much cheaper than the 40 percent charged by moneylenders in this community. The usual practice is that the capital is to be paid back after 3 weeks at the most. They each pay 5 shillings in as a form of insurance. If a member of the group was robbed the group would help them out. If a member of the group was irresponsible with the money, they would be disciplined by the group accordingly. Over time the fund grows benefitting the members and raising their standard of living and self-esteem as part of the process.
This group was at the first stage of the process being a newly established group. When a group has been together for some time and has shown a proven record of working together and repaying loans made to each other they may become eligible for larger loans provided by donors. This is the second stage.
This is a proud member of a savings group with her savings book.
We met an inspirational woman called Evelyn. She makes and sells clothes and also makes bead jewellery funded by the Maono system. She mentors several groups and is raising 24 orphaned children. Eight of those children sleep with her in her small house at night in addition to two children of her own who live with her.
There was an opportunity to buy from some of the business owners. Here is Rowena sizing up some fabric.
Erin Hammond wearing some beautiful beads she bought. .
Our group with some of the people involved with Maono:
A fruit stall business in a slum area: