The Applicability of microfinance models in Providing Economic Alternatives to HIV Vulnerable Sex Workers in Nairohi. Kenya.
Ngugi, Elizabeth N
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Introduction: Many marginalized Women- in Nairobi, Kenya are \ 00% dependent on commercial sex. Such dependence renders them vullnerable to client refusal to use condoms and STIIHIV infection. Previous studies have shown FSWs in Nairobi to be 50-80% HIV infected The sex workers participating in a Lniversiry of Nairobi peer-led HI'//STI prevention project. have persistently requested income-generation support from project staff in order to reduce their dependence on sex work. In response. the project, in partnership with a small enterprise training "NGO, Improve Your Business Kenya. undertook an alternative economic activities study of two hundred and nine female sex workers The objectives of the study were to explore the extent of FSW's uptake of credit and small business activity through an adapted micro-finance model and the impact of this uptake on safer sexual behavior The study undertook an adapted microfinance model in the interests of sustainabilitv and future advocacv ziven the volume of micro-finance institutions in Kenya The traditional micro-credit approaches in Kenya and elsewhere is based on the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and adapted to suit the Kenyan context. It's main elements include: a) the provision of loans repaid over a short duration made through a small group of 5; b) loans only given to individuals with ongoing small-scale business activities or with verifiable business experience; c) equal weekly loan repayment installments; d) weekly savings; e) group guarantee of loans in lieu of collateral. Individuals guarantee loans of their 5 member groups and a further group of 20, comprising 4 of the small guarantee groups. The modifications to the model made by the study include: a) no prior business experience or ongoing businesses required; b) the provision of technical assistance and business training.