Rising to the saving challenge
Akiba Nyumbani (‘home savings’) campaign closes in Kenya
For the third year running, Hand in Hand Eastern Africa ran the Akiba Nyumbani (‘home savings’) campaign to raise the awareness of the importance of saving amongst the poorest people in Kenyan society.
In Kenya just 42% of the population have a bank account with a formal financial institution (compared to 97% in the UK). However, Hand in Hand Eastern Africa is keen to demonstrate that even the most marginalized in society, excluded from formal financial institutions and living on just a few dollars a day can save a little money and that this can be the first step on the ladder out of poverty.
Organized into informal savings groups, all 2014 campaign entrants in Akiba Nyumbani were given a sealed ‘piggy bank’ and encouraged by Hand in Hand Eastern Africa trainers to save regularly. The best savers were rewarded in a high profile awards ceremony in Nairobi in September 2014.
The 2014 Akiba Nyumbani campaign saw entrants save an average KES 4,000 (USD 45) in total over six months. This is a significant achievement for people living in communities where the majority (62%) support entire families on less than KES 5,000 per month (USD 60), 50% must walk to the local well or river to get water and 84% use fire wood as source of cooking fuel.
Last year’s best saver, Philomena Nduku Mutuku was crowned champion yet again this year. The 68 year-old shop-owner, who used to earn just KES 500 (US$ 6) a week fetching water from the local well for her wealthier neighbors, said: “I did not go to school, but I am a fast learner: thanks to the Hand in Hand training, I can now control what I spend. So, I would estimate what I really needed every week and challenge myself to save the rest”.
Encouraged to save just a little each week, last year Philomena eventually had enough to invest in the necessary stock for a small shop – the only one in a 15km radius from her village. With demand in the shop outstripping her produce supply, this year the indefatigable Philomena hired three staff to work on her farm to increase supply.
As a direct result of saving, Philomena has moved on from carrying water to become an independent business-woman who today earns some KES 1,000 (US$ 12) a day.
“Our Akiba Nyumbani campaign demonstrates the power of regular saving to Kenyans living in extreme poverty”
Pauline Ngari, CEO Hand in Hand Eastern Africa
The routine and discipline of regular saving is the first step of the Hand in Hand business creation model. The model was introduced into Kenya in 2010 to empower the country’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged – often women – to work their way out of poverty by running their own businesses.