Chamas have been with us for the longest time and have over the years been exclusively linked to women who used them for social welfare. However, following their success, men and the youth have joined the bandwagon. Today these chamas have evolved to a major savings and investments avenue. It is estimated that there are over 300,000 chamas in Kenya with 300 billion Kenya shillings of assets under their management.
Before chamas became mainstream, they were life savers for our women folk and helped them improve the welfare of their families. A good example of how a chama can improve the welfare of a family, is a lady by the name of Jane who is now a landlady in Kitengela. Some years back, she used to live in a one-bedroom house in Kayole with her husband because that is all they could afford. One day, a friend of hers approached with the idea of forming a chama together with other ladies in her neighborhood. Seeing a need to pool resources for investment and also a place where she could be able to borrow funds for her needs, she quickly joined the chama. The 15 ladies in the chama saved up and were able to purchase a piece of land in the outskirts of Nairobi. They later sold this land and made a handsome profit. Two subsequent land transactions left the members with enough money to make their own investments. Jane and her husband used their share to not only buy land to build their own house but to also build residential houses. This shift from barely having enough to becoming a landlady was only possible through the help of a chama.
In short, chamas have changed the lives of many Kenyans for the better. This is because it has enabled groups especially women who have been economically disadvantaged for the longest time to pool resources and make investments as well as provide for their families. These investments have in turn enabled them to acquire financial freedom something which has eluded a majority of the women who live in the lower income areas.
One such women’s group which is changing the lives of its members for the better is the Bidii Mothers Self Help Wishes from Makiri in Tharaka Nithi county. It is a group of 15 women who came to the realization that they share the same issues. These women also realized that if they were able to pool resources, they would be able to assist each other in times of need for example school fees for their kids, capital for their businesses. The ladies have been saving together for some time now but they hadn’t been able to amass enough funds to enable them invest in their dream project that is goat rearing. From my research, goat rearing in Tharaka Nithi is quite profitable with some farmers even making millions which explains the choice of the project by the group.
With their small pool of funds, it would have taken a long time for the ladies to be able to embark on their dream project. Luckily, two of the members got to hear about the Safaricom Ndoto Zetu initiative and they promptly applied. Their application was accepted and the were funded to the tune of Ksh. 250,000 which enabled them to purchase 11 Toggenburg dairy goats. One could see the joy on the women’s faces when the goats were finally delivered. The goats which are known to produce about 5 liters of milk a day will provide the ladies with a consistent source of income from milk sales which can be about Ksh. 300,000 annually. Other than milk, the goats will also provide manure for their crops which can also be sold to other farmers in the area. The Billy goat in the herd can be used as a breeder in the area which can be another source of income.
Goats also breed rapidly and from the 11 goats they now have the herd can easily grow to over hundred in a short span. The group can be able to sell off some of them especially during holidays thus taking the group on the fast lane to becoming millionaires. Just like Jane and her group, the Bidii Mothers Self Help Wishes are about to reap the benefits of being in a chama and I just can’t wait to see how far it will take them.
Of course, all this would not have been possible without the help of the Safaricom Ndoto Zetu initiative. The initiative is aimed at transforming the lives of communities across the country for the better. They do this by supporting Kenyans who are doing extra ordinary things for their communities, in this case it was the Bidii Mothers Self Help Wishes.