Harriet’s Story; How Microfinance Changed her Future

Elimu Resource Centre
byElimu Resource Centre

At 46, Harriet is a single mother to seven children and a business woman. She sells fried fish from a small kiosk in her neighborhood to provide for her family. In a week Harriet would make an average of a thousand shillings (USD $10) in profit. This was all she had to provide for food, rent and school fees. Many are the times she could not manage to keep all her children in school.

In 2020, when Harriet approached Elimu for support, her eldest daughter, Miriam, had just completed primary school and scored high marks. Harriet was struggling to raise school fees for the boarding high school that her daughter had been called to. In Kilifi County, the primary school completion rate is 84% but the transition to high school is only 45% and majority of those affected are girls.

"I now feel confident about the future of my children."

When we enrolled Miriam into the Stay in School Project, Harriet had an easier time providing for her other children. She joined Elimu’s Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) group for parents. This is where Harriet’s life started to turn around. She discovered the power of savings and found new inspiration to scale up her business. She also formed friendships with the other parents in the group.

“My life before coming to Elimu was full of sorrow and worry. I constantly worried over not having enough to provide for my family. But through the savings group I learned that no amount is ever too small to save. Elimu also supports me to access loans so that I can grow my business.”

Harriet has over time restocked her business and expanded her shop. On a good week, she now makes three thousand shillings (USD $30) in profit. She can comfortably pay school fees and other basic needs from this weekly amount. Furthermore, her daughter Miriam graduated from high school this year and as she waits to go to college, Harriet is feeling calm because she has been putting money aside which she will use to pay for her college needs. Elimu will help Miriam access a government bursary to make her career goals affordable.

“I have seen a whole transformation in my life since coming to Elimu, from the way I perceive myself, to my spending habits. I now feel confident about the future of my children.”

Elimu’s Stay in School Project aims at boosting families. By relieving the school fees burden of at least one child, parents are in a stronger position to pay rent and food and keep their other children in school.

We desire to see our sponsored families independent of Elimu in the future. With this aim, we offer a savings and loan scheme and training in starting their own home-based businesses that can provide a regular income.