Poverty vs. Empowerment of Women in Kenya

Slum Child Foundation, an associate member of Dianova International, has created a successful microcredit programme that helps women start a business

Businesswomen in Kenya

Some of the businesswomen who participate in the Slum Child Foundation’s table banking project

Life under the poverty line on barely 1.5 euros per day (USD 1.90) is the reality of more than a third of the population of Kenya, an estimated 48.6 million people. Faced with this reality, Slum Child Foundation — a non-profit organization that works with vulnerable people around Nairobi — has created a microcredit (table banking) programme called “Seed Money: Table Banking for the Women of the Slums”, which targets the businesswomen (under age 35) who live in slums. It aims to help them become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life and that of their families.

Mercy is one of them. She lives in the precarious conditions of the Korogocho slum in Nairobi in what she calls “home”: a structure built from mud, straw, thin lumber and rusted tin. There she gets by with her four small daughters, who play between dirt roads and pools of dirty water.  Mercy is the head of the household; since her husband died seven years ago, she has had to struggle on her own to escape poverty.

The young mother is part of the table banking programme, which supports three groups of women (two groups with five members each and one group of 10). Each group is given a seed fund, which the women themselves manage. They can pay back loans in small weekly installments with an interest rate that allows the fund to grow. The money is the capital for their projects. “I sell boiled corn on the side of the road. With this, I am able to pay the school fees for my daughters to attend school”, Mercy reports.

Empowerment of Women

The program, which uses a group lending system, also offers the women financial education and training so their projects will be successful. The beneficiaries run small businesses such as selling tomatoes, plantains, corn, onions or any income-generating product. How did they get started? They began with only 10 euros. With hard work and perseverance, their businesses have grown through the program’s savings and loans.

The project’s first group was created in June 2016, and its results have been so successful that it has allowed them to save and feel proud. This is how they decided to buy uniforms that identify them as successful businesswomen.


The programme’s results report not only the economic benefits to the women, but also advances toward a society that is more fair, collaborative and peaceful, supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): No Poverty (1), Good Health and Well-Being (3), Quality Education (4), Gender Equality (5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (8), Peace and Justice (16)