A Kenyan mother’s dream: Ruth’s aspiration to expand her business

The Tuende Pamoja project has paved the way for Ruth and 3,050 vulnerable individuals from Kibera to enhance the resilience of both families and the community. 

Countries Kenya
Date 12.12.2023
Author Redempter Gathua, AVSI Kenya Communication Officer

Ruth, a determined business lady and a mother of four, rises every day at dawn to prepare her last-born for school before she can head out to her business. She lives and works in Kibera, one of the poorest slum of Nairobi, in Kenya. Her journey to work involves a 15-to-20-minute walk to her stall where she sells second-hand belts. 

A brave step into entrepreneurship 

Five years ago, Ruth took a courageous step and started her own small business of selling second-hand clothes popularly known as "mutumba" with only Ksh. 5,000 (approx 35 Euro) in Toi Market, the biggest market of Kibera slum. Her dream was to contribute financially to the well being of  her children and securing their future. 

In 2023, tragedy struck Toi Market as a fire broke out, engulfing the market in flames (Star News). The devastating incident brought extensive damage and losses to numerous traders, and unfortunately, Ruth was not spared. Her stall, once brimming with merchandise, was reduced to ashes. 

I used to make 800 shillings (approx 5 Euro) a day from my business, but with this fire, it's been a heart-breaking setback that has left me wondering how I will pick up the pieces

Ruth, beneficiary of the project

Amidst the ashes and the uncertainty, Ruth met the Tuende Pamoja project; a program designed to bolster the resilience of Kibera's families and communities. For Ruth, this project was a lifeline, ensuring that she could continue to support her children's education. 

I'm hopeful that the business and financial skills training I'm receiving from the Tuende Pamoja project, along with the potential financial assistance, will enable me to restart my business successfully

Ruth is keen not to give up; so, she has already started selling belts temporarily while she gathers enough capital to rebuild her inventory. She already uses the skills gained in keeping business records, time management, customer relations and profit management to run her business. She also saves some of her income to serve as a risk mitigation in case of any major challenges. 

Ruth aspires to expand her business in future by opening a wholesale shop that sells second-hand clothes, in different towns. 

Tuende Pamoja project 

The Tuende Pamoja ("Let's Go Together" in swahili) project is a two-year initiative implemented by AVSI and AVAID with funding from FOSIT. It provides comprehensive support to 3,050 individuals from Kibera, including school-going children, adolescents, caregivers, young people, and single mothers. 

Specifically, the project: 

  • Enables school access for children and adolescents. 
  • Empowers caregivers through health insurance awareness training and access. 
  • Equips young people and single mothers with life and business skills. 
  • Promotes eco-friendly cooking practices by providing training and pressure cookers. 
  • Enhances family nutrition through improved cooking methods. 

The Tuende Pamoja project is making a significant impact on the lives of individuals and families in Kibera by empowering them to achieve a better future.