Hello, my name is Traci Yoshiyama, Zidisha’s Kenya Client Relationship Manager. I am currently residing in Mugaa, visiting Zidisha borrowers in nearby villages.
“I’m very hard working,” says Jane Wambui without a tinge of boastfulness, but rather a sense of pride. Rightfully so, Jane is 27 years old and already a successful businesswoman, not to mention a mother of two. Jane and her husband own a kinyozi (salon) and a produce stall in Miti Mingi. As Jane and I speak from her stall, we peer across the street at the kinyozi where we can see her husband cutting the hair of a young gentleman. In another minute, Jane gets a customer wanting to buy bananas, evidence that their two businesses are thriving.
Jane is an experienced Zidisha member, already repaying her 2nd loan. She comments on how she finished repaying her first loan 4 months early, and she anticipates following this example for her second. The creation of her family’s kinyozi was possible because of Zidisha. Through her first loan of Ksh 50,000, Jane was able to rent a space, buy all the necessary machinery (i.e. shavers, razors), stock her store with hair products and shoes, and even buy two batteries that enable her shop to stay open during the frequent power outages. While her husband is in charge of styling the men, Jane takes care of the children haircuts when not working at her produce stall. We have all heard of children being fearful of haircuts, with scissors too close for comfort and strange noises and smells permeating the air. Jane gestures towards her face, implying this is the answer to their haircut jitters. Although both Jane and her husband have no formal training in barbering, she explains to me that, “some courses come from the heart”. To further prove how hard working she is, Jane speaks about her two cows, one of which was bought with her second Zidisha loan. With the milk from her cows, she is able to make Ksh 15,000 a month, which then assists in paying for school fees (both boys are in boarding schools) and rent for her kinyozi.
Upon leaving, Jane reaches for a banana, the ripest of the bunch, and gives it to me as a gift. Refusing to take my money, she makes me promise to visit again, even extending an invitation to her home. As I make my 6km descent home, I think about Miti Mingi, one of the smallest villages I have seen in Kenya, but filled with people possessing the biggest of hearts.