YES Women Initiative, is a project aimed at empowering widows and vulnerable women in Mumias sub-county, Kakamega County in the western part of Kenya, through entrepreneurship and capacity development. We recognize problems and challenges, such as widow inheritance, gender based violence, low income, illiteracy, and identify opportunities to be seized such as small businesses, education, salon, tailoring, pottery and other handcrafts, women’s constitutional rights to access land and other family possessions, and their right to take a lead in national development activities.
About 44.8% of Kenyan widows live in extreme poverty where basic needs go unmet. Apart from financial, cultural and social neglect, they also undergo severe psychological and emotional trauma. Their problems are further gravitated by their inaccessibility to proper education, legal and social reforms. Widows and women in Mumias sub-county face similar problems as men in the society tend to control them through use of violence. The area has also high rate of polygamy. There is a need to usher these vulnerable women, widows, and victims of all forms of gender based violence from extreme poverty through entrepreneurship and capacity development. Empowering them towards economic development will not only facilitate in improving the socio-economic conditions of women, but will also help in betterment of the entire family. Financial independence gained through entrepreneurial development will provide confidence to women and be able to avail their rights.
The seed grant enabled me to purchase sewing machines and use the income that we generated to purchase another. We have also increased the size of materials both for sewing and salon to meet the ever increasing demand for our products. Though we have maintained the number of volunteers to three, more often we have been forced to employ part time labors during peak seasons to meet the agency of our clients. In case such opportunities arise, we have highly been considered giving chances to our former learners who have not yet succeeded in starting their own business. 125 women have accessed our services directly and our products have reached to more than 500 people. We have continued realizing a growing demand for our products and services due to the price we have set to suit a wide segment of people.
With the Impact Grant, we will be able to purchase more machines and accessories, thus involving more women with the training. This will increase our outreach ad capacity. The project will be empowering and supporting more changemakers in our community with both skills and knowledge in tailoring and saloon skills, thus championing out experts and who are financially stable and independent .