women entrepreneurs
Members of San Marco women's group display their products from their bakery

In Rongai District,about 30 kilometres up a hilly road from Nakuru town, lies San Marco Bakery. Located on a quarter acre of land and humble beginnings, this bakery has secured lives for about 70 Internally Displaced families that reside around it. Most of these families are recently resettled victims of the post-election violence under the Operation Rundi Nyumbani, an initiative of the Kenya government.

 

 The bakery opened in June 2012 with funding to the tune of Ksh 500,000 is collectively managed by 16 members who are all women. Chairlady, Elizabeth Munti explains why: “We decided to come together exclusively as women in order to strengthen our ties and encourage financial independence in households.”

  The San Marco Women Group started as a table banking organisation for self-help purposes to members.  After initial training and guidance, the group achieved immediate benefits. “The table banking helped us to trust each other, says Ann Waringa Njoroge, a 41 year old mother of eight who has sustained her family since 2011 through the group. From humble beginnings, the group moved from strength to strength, eventually catching the eye of UNDP and the Government of Kenya. “Things hanged for the better, when the partners realized we were well organised and willing to start all over again after losing all our property during the 2007/8 post-election violence,” says Elizabeth Murugi one of

the members.

 

Although they never banked the proceeds from the sale of cakes (as they preferred to

loan it to members at an interest rate of 10%), the money kept growing. Beginning with loans of as little as Ksh100, they now offer up to Ksh 5,000 in loans to members, who must repay within 3 months.“We now have over Ksh 80,000 in circulation among our members, and banks are now approaching us to invest with them,” Murugi gushes with excitement. The women wake up us early as 5.00 am and work late into the night. Through the training, Elizabeth says, the members have managed to invest in other businesses including cereals, fruits, food and grocery shops. The group has enhanced financial independence for its members.