A study of the contribution of women’s enterprise fund to the livelihoods of women in manga sub - county, Nyamira county, Kenya
In Kenya, efforts have been made to provide funds to support Small and Medium Enterprises owned by women and the poor. However, these enterprises have been facing challenges such as discrimination, poor access to justice, lack of finances among others. This prompted the inception of Micro Finance Institutions targeting women and the marginalized, with their argument being that women are good at credit risk and are, therefore, unlikely to misuse the loan. The study targeted to interview 60 women who have benefited from WEF in Nyamira County. The specific objectives were to find out the food security situation of WEF beneficiaries in Manga Sub-County; to determine the participation of WEF beneficiaries in household sustenance in Manga Sub-County; establish the extent to which existing businesses are enhanced by WEF have affected the livelihoods of women in Manga Sub-County. The study was guided by endogenous growth theory. In methodology the study adopted descriptive design with Survey, FGD, KI as data collection methods to generate primary data. The analyzed data had both qualitative and quantitative features and were presented by the use of narrative reports, tables, percentages and figures. The study found out that Women felt the need to provide household goods out of the need to support their own family through providing their household necessity. The study found out that the funds from WEF have enabled participants to buy farm inputs; seeds and fertilizer thus increasing food security within the household and the community at large. Money from vegetable business supported by WEF has been used in buying dairy cow which has enabled participant to feed the household. Additionally they have been able to buy household goods; plate‘s blankets; mattress; sofa sets. The literacy level have improved the beneficiaries have gained the knowledge of reading and writing through record keeping. Women are in position to provide food for their own families though parcels of land remain minimal the money for WEF has enable women to buy large sum of food stuff for their families. It has uplifted the standards of living, their life was a bit low but ever since accessing the funds they were able to lease Napier grass farm, tea plantation farms and also to plant maize. But since accessing the time of accessing the funding from WEF, the levels of literacy have improved immensely since most of the participants are able to read and write and keep their own business record. Most of the house structures for the participants have been improved from grass thatched to iron sheet roofing this has positively reduced the levels of poverty among beneficiaries. Most of the participant did not own anything but their lives have improved, they now own tea plantation farms and Napier grass farms. Business has transformed women lives through what is commonly known as chamaa through which participants have used to help themselves economically. Participants noted that their business have not only reduced the distance of going to market which are far to the nearest town such as Nyaikuro but also saved the time wastage since services are within the range and nearer to the homestead. Most importantly participants have developed the culture of giving back to the community by giving one tin of maize, soaps and firewood to the less privileged (Orphans; widowed) within the community. Participants have created an attractive environment to which the rest of the member who are not in group to formulate the same, most importantly other members of the community have formulated the same culture of coming to together hence promoting food security. Hardship characterized the majority of women participants before the inception of WEF; that is most of the women had to go for casual just to provide food for their families even though themselves they could go whole night without having anything for supper. This attributed most children to an extent of dropping out of school since the level of concentration was minimal. Their level of poverty was high which was characterized by hardship in lives, they had no land. But over time with the access of funds from the government institution participants have been able to lease tea plantation and be able to indulge themselves in Napier grass farming, others have been able to undertake domestic animal business; dairy farming; chicken farming this has not only improved their own lives but the larger community as a whole. Women through this initiative they were able to buy vegetable together and sold among others in the community this enabled them to have vegetable among themselves and the surplus food was sold to other members. Life was stressful through going to long distance markets to buy vegetable and now participants don‘t spend a lot of money since she has his own farm of vegetable which she uses within the family and the surplus she sell to the community through the markets.. Most of the participant did not have avenues of lending money to pay school fees for their children, because they did not have any saving where they could repay if they borrowed but WEF has provided them the best avenue since women now can lend amongst themselves and take their children to school without any difficulties.