With Kiva loans, Fresh Life entrepreneurs clean up their communities
Four years ago, Sanergy struck a partnership with Kiva – an online micro-lending platform that helps entrepreneurs in the informal settlements access financial services for their Fresh Life business. This partnership has proven fruitful: Over 90% of Fresh Life Toilets in our network are funded through Kiva, with a total of 284 Fresh Life Operators benefitting from the program!
Some of these Fresh Life Operators share their experience with Kiva and what it meant for their Fresh Life Toilets.
Mamba Group – Motivated by the lack of hygienic toilet facilities at Gikomba market, these group members, who are also small-scale entrepreneurs, came together to launch four Fresh Life Toilets that have since improved cleanliness in the market. “Women have greatly benefited from our clean toilets; they do not have to walk long distances to access a toilet and leave their businesses unattended. In addition, each of our group members is able to earn some money from this business venture!” beams the group’s chairlady Pamela Murugu.
Joseph Kaindi – Joseph was the first Fresh Life Operator in Makadara. He launched two facilities in 2013 in Kaloleni to provide his tenants and neighboring entrepreneurs round-the-clock access. “The loan agreement with Kiva through Fresh Life has been a pleasant experience; the application process was easy, and I did not have to wait for long as they processed the loan and helped me launch my business,” he says, adding that his experience motivated many more entrepreneurs in his area to join the network. Serving over 70 customers per day, Joseph’s Fresh Life Toilets have helped in cleaning up the area around his plot and brought him some additional income. “Fresh Life has transformed the face of sanitation in Kaloleni area,” he exclaims.
Richard Miruka – A savvy entrepreneur in Mukuru Kwa Reuben who joined the network to provide sanitary facilities to his tenants is ecstatic about the revolutionary change it has brought. The tenants are happy to have easy access to a toilet and his family proud that the toilets are odorless; they rarely have flies in their compound. “After I took the loan, sometimes, it was difficult to raise enough money to repay my monthly installments, however I’m glad that Fresh Life’s credit officers extended my repayment period without any accrued penalties. The team also advises me on ways to plan my finances better so as to meet my repayment schedule. This has helped build a long-term relationship with Fresh Life,” he says.
Richard’s brothers, Christopher and Evans Miruka, have also joined the Fresh Life network as a result of the transformation they have witnessed from their brother.
Esther Munyiva – Having lived in Mukuru Kwa Reuben for over two decades, she has witnessed the adverse effects of poor sanitation on her family and community. She has also seen the positive impact Fresh Life Toilets are having in her community. “Kiva offers us loans with a friendly repayment period,” reiterates Esther, adding that this period has ensured that she pays off her loan while simultaneously saving up some money for her household’s use.
Magdaline Oduor – launched one Fresh Life Toilet last year to complement her charcoal business. While she was eager to join the Fresh Life network, she was skeptical about taking a loan as a way to raise the capital she required. She did not want to commit herself financially while still unsure if her new business would give her the income she anticipated to pay off her loan. “During our loan appraisal process with her, we advised her on proper and consistent record-keeping to track the money earned from her new Fresh Life Toilet, as well as how to maintain consistency in business operations to maximize her income,” says George Osir, Fresh Life credit officer.
Currently, Magdaline is thrilled at the benefits of following this advice. “With my additional business venture, I earn about 15 USD cumulatively every day. I am able to repay my loan and ensure that my grandchildren’s needs are well taken care of,” she says.
Jacinta Wambui – A textiles’ retailer in Gikomba open-air market, Jacinta launched the first two Fresh Life Toilets in the area. “Before Fresh Life, the existing toilets were scarce, and their maintenance was poor; they were either clogged or out of order and therefore inaccessible to business people,” she recalls. As an entrepreneur, Jacinta wanted to join the network mainly because of the financial and operational support offered by Fresh Life. “This support has helped me learn how to manage my business and maximize my profits,” she says. This has, in turn, helped her and her community greatly; since she joined the network, Jacinta serves over three hundred customers every day. “To meet the demand for toilets in this busy market, my Fresh Life Toilets are operational on a 24-hour basis. I have also employed an attendant, Daniel, to work during the night shift, contributing to the much-needed job opportunities for youths in Nairobi,” Jacinta says proudly.