Project Description

Kianda Foundation has been running a project using the Trainer of Trainers (TOT) model since 2003 targeting rural women surrounding Nairobi. The aim of the project is to empower women through basic business training with the help of university students. The university students are expected to avail themselves for at least five weeks so that they are trained and thereafter go to the respective villages to train the women beneficiaries. University students are recruited and undergo one week of training in business and life skills to become instructors for the economic empowerment course. They work on a volunteer basis (lunch and fare/transport is provided for those who need it). Due to the life-skills component of the course, in order to encourage the women to speak freely, the recruited trainers are female.

The training module includes topics such as: saving and investment, starting a business, basic business records, budgeting, and business plan writing. Training is done mainly in Kiswahili which is widely understood within the participating communities. The women select a training place and time which is convenient for them. Each student takes charge of helping a small group of women to plan their own businesses. To date close to 3000 women have gone through this program. Most of the enterprises started by the women are flourishing with over 80% of them having more than doubled their monthly income.
The students, under the supervision of the project coordinator, monitor the women for six months to help them solve any problems that may arise, study initiatives and evaluate possibilities for future expansion.

Kianda Foundation has partnered with Microfinance banks to lend to those who require capital for their businesses. The banks conduct their usual due diligence. After the one-month training, follow-up is conducted once a week over a six-month period. During follow-up, further training is conducted to impart practical skills, for instance in cooking, agriculture and life skills.

The women who attend the TOT program value it highly, because they learn how to run their businesses with professional standards, and improve their standard of living. They also appreciate the life skills that are taught as part of the course; such as nutrition and cookery, inter-personal relationships, self- esteem, health, the good upbringing of children, etc.  All these have a positive effect on the whole family.

Most of the university students find that participating in the TOT project helps them to work with a professional mentality. They have learned to make better use of their time, to work diligently and constantly, and to be responsible for the things they have undertaken. They comment that they would like to give a social dimension to their jobs, for example by introducing specific community development initiatives in the organizations they will work in after graduating. Education and access to the means of economic emancipation is key to the success of the women.