Oile Mitumba Self Help Group

Client: Jane Liech

Business: Second-hand clothing trade

Location: Kenya

Gender: Woman

“I broke with tradition”, says Jane Liech, the leader of Oile Mitumba Self Help Group in Kenya. Tradition often accepts practices such as wife-beating, wife-inheritance and early marriage which can be a great impediment to the well-being of women.

Oile Mitumba Self Help Group brings together 18 women who felt that they could more successfully tackle the challenges of life in rural Kenya together as a group.  The group joined ECLOF Kenya’s program in November 2005. To date it has accessed a total of US$5,714 in loans for businesses operated by these women, focusing on “mitumba” or the second-hand clothes trade.
 
Availability of working capital and training has led to the growth of these women’s businesses and incomes. Once economically marginalized they are now running their own businesses. With regular group meetings they feel socially empowered and able to take charge of their future and that of their families.
 
With increased disposable income from profits, clients’ standards of living and those of their immediate and close relatives have improved. They have better shelter, more of their children are attending school, and some of them have bought bicycles which are a key mode of transport in the area.
 
It is estimated that 7% of the Kenyan population is infected by HIV and it has been reported that Nyanza Province, home of Oile Mitumba SHG, has the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS in Kenya. Several women in the group were widowed when their husbands died of AIDS, and now some in the group are among the first to take out health insurance covering their families for the cost of potential hospitalization, giving them still more faith in the future.
 
After experiencing steady growth and continuing success, the group now has the confidence to reveal that before coming to ECLOF they had been rejected by several other microfinance institutions because their businesses were so small and because they had little security to offer against a loan. ECLOF's belief in the ability of the women of Oile Mitumba to succeed and its readiness to help them get a much-needed start when no one else would has set in motion real, lasting change for the better.