Islamic Relief is supporting women and young people to earn money and build lasting livelihoods in Kenya’s Wajir County. Gloria Nthenya Kivuva, Communications Coordinator at Islamic Relief Kenya, explains how one project is changing lives through funding and training.

The social and economic empowerment of women and young people is crucial to achieving sustainable development and reducing gender inequality, and in Wajir County, many are already starting and running their own businesses.

However, most enterprises fail or need urgent support because of a lack of knowledge about and access to financial services. Better access to financing, education, and opportunities is essential to encourage women to participate in the local economy.

Islamic Relief officially launched a project in October 2021, forming 24 groups for women and young people that we support with training and funding through the Women Empowerment through Socio-Economic Approaches Project.

The project has reached 300 people who are working together to build and expand their businesses and income. Islamic Relief has supplied cash grants, equipment, tools and business training to support the groups’ endeavours.

Creating a source of income

Raha, a 34-year-old single mother, is part of the Iskufilan Women Group. The 10-member group’s shop is her source of income.

“We owned some livestock [as a group] that we sold regularly to earn an income. The drought was so severe that none of our livestock survived. The drought affected our business greatly.”

“Our group received money amounting to Kes 125,000 (R23400), a refrigerator and a sewing machine from Islamic Relief.

“We were informed about savings, and we are now making more effort to save a portion of our incomes. We have currently saved Kes 45,000 (R8350) as a group. The meetings organised for us with financial institutions have made me trust banks more because we interacted with their staff,” Raha says.

Fostering financial inclusion, training for success

The 24 groups each received Kes 125,000 (R23400) to start or expand their businesses. The cash grant provided the members with direct financial resources to buy necessary supplies for their businesses.

Islamic Relief then extended our support by supplying appropriate equipment to the groups. The equipment included 24 sewing machines, 22 chest freezers, 2 meat slicers, and 30 units of farming seeds. These items helped the groups to improve their productivity and product quality, and become competitive in the market.

Through the project Islamic Relief also provided equipment, including manual and electrical sewing machines, desktop computers and beauty tools, to Wajir Vocational and Training Institute in Wajir town. The equipment has enabled the institution to improve the quality of their training.

In Wajir East and Wajir South, 3 groups received training from Islamic Relief in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Cooperatives of Wajir County. The establishment of training programmes covering micro-enterprises, saving and loaning, and entrepreneurship have strengthened the members’ skills and knowledge.

The group members are also empowered to save together, and informed about how and where to seek loans. By encouraging women and young people to save a portion of their earnings, the training builds resilience to economic shocks and enables them to invest in their businesses. Women are now making informed decisions about their finances, accessing formal financial services, and planning for their families’ future while running a profitable business.


“We feel empowered”

Amina, a mother to 9 children, is 1 of the 10 members of Upendo Mother-to-Mother Support Group, which benefitted from Islamic Relief’s support.

Her husband, who runs a taxi business, was the family’s breadwinner until suffering an accident. The family struggled to make ends meet. As the chair of her group, Amina encouraged all 10 members to participate in the Islamic Relief training.

Armed with our training and funding, Amina’s group stocked their shop and expanded the business to boost the members’ income.

“We also expanded the business by opening a tailoring section because [Islamic Relief] gave us a sewing machine. One of the group members has the technical skills required to operate it. We can now compete with nearby vendors in the market and make a profit. We have since saved Kes 40,000 as a group since January 2023.

“I am helping my husband to provide for our family. He can lean on me to ensure our family does not struggle financially. We didn’t know how to plant crops, and [Islamic Relief] demonstrated how kitchen gardens operate. My family is enjoying nutritious meals of kale and other vegetables,” Amina says.

Supplying cash grants, equipment, tools, and training to women and young people generates a ripple effect that positively impacts entire communities.

As women become economically empowered, household incomes increase, leading to improved living conditions, diets, and better access to education and healthcare.

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