Covid-19 has disrupted our socio-economic way of life. It has led to increased Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases as a result of decreased household income. This is due to retrenchment and reduced domestic work opportunities for many women from informal settlements as many employers are scared to be ’infected’. The informal settlement is also characterized by many single mothers thus, worsening their situation as their main source of income was small-scale trade boosted by domestic work. The pandemic led to decreased sales and the little income earned was utilized to sustain their families that affected many businesses’ operations due to limited capital. Thus, after some time, the businesses were not operational. As a way of surviving, the families within these areas depended heavily on relief aid that includes cash transfer and food distribution that aren’t sustainable even as we advocate for resilient communities.
It’s against this background, that Women Economic Empowerment –a special project supported by Oxfam with funding from DANIDA took an intentional move to support women from the informal settlement areas as a Covid – response initiative. This was towards supporting women undertaking small-scale trade that were adversely affected by covid-19 (business shutdown, reduced sales, or even reduction in customers) with a stimulus grant to support revive the business ventures and make them thrive once again.
Y.A.K. embarked on a mapping activity and identified four-hundred and twenty (420) women from three (3) informal settlement areas (Kawangware, Korogocho and Kibera). Those mapped out were grouped in four (4) categories: Groceries, food vendors, sale of commodities, and cereals.
- To identify women whose businesses were negatively affected due to the Covid-19 virus.
- To provide financial literacy training to identified beneficiaries
- To issue capital as an economic injector to boost their small-scale businesses
Maciana Juaya is a married woman from Ngomongo village ,Korogocho. She is also a guardian to four orphans who are still schooling. Tailoring was her main source of income before the pandemic. In May 2020, her husband got laid off as employers took measures in cost-cutting. This meant, her small business was the one to take care of all the bills. As more people were rendered jobless, her business lost customers thus, resulting in reduced sales. Three months later, she could not afford the rent and had to pack and leave. Her small house later, become her workplace. Through the grant of Ksh. 25,000, she bought an over-lock machine. This is projected to increase her income since she’ll be the only tailor with such a machine around. She further bought ten pieces of fabric and groundnuts that are packed at Ksh.10 each and sold in the evening. Next week, she is moving to a new structure along the road where her business will be more visible. To her, life was not promising until the project reached her
Commonly known as Mama supu in Kabiro area in Kawangware. Her business had drastically gone down since her children came first. She realized that her saving was slowly emptying very late. Her stock is usually cow’s heads and hooves that are used to make soup and provide proteins (meat) to the citizens within the area. Nine months saw her struggling as she had lost customers due to the limited number of new business products. The grant has facilitated buying of cheaper stock, besides, she has introduced fried bananas as a compliment to the soup.
“At some point, this soup is what we took for supper and slept. I watched my children going to bed hungry and it pained me as a mother. Thank you Y.A.K. for coming to our aid” ~ Shared a tearful Mama supu
She was not able to talk to us when we visited. She is still in shock the support is not a loan but as a grant. Earlier on, she had informed the community leader, since she came to Korogocho no help or support has ever come through. This was the first case and she’s yet to believe it’s true. Her stall is fully stocked and she appears overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. We hope next time we visit, she will be in a position to talk and share her story.