Kariti's New Hair Salon
This year marks the 100th International Women’s Day on March 8th. The theme for this year is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”. To celebrate the occasion, Seed of Hope has invited several women, including graduates from the program, to talk at their Nairobi centre and inspire the next generation of students as they undergo the training that will help them on the pathway towards either employment or self-employment.
Recruitment is ongoing at all four Seed of Hope centres and our head-teachers have reported that only three of last year’s students failed to return for their second year of training. This is a record low and a great sign that the program is still going strong.
One of the big changes this year has been the addition of a second vocational course at our Kariti centre. As you may have seen in earlier updates, Kariti has been one of the strongest centres in terms of embracing the concept of income generating activities. As well as producing school uniforms and cultivating grass for cow feed, they started rearing animals and this has really paid off. The four pigs they bought for 6,000ksh (about £50) and reared for one and a half years were recently sold for 25,500ksh. The board at the school agreed to head-teacher Njambi’s suggestion that these proceeds could be used to start a hair salon to generate income and provide a second option for students. A food store was the only available space so this was quickly converted while the board sought a qualified teacher for the course and purchased the items necessary to get the course started.
A total of 36 students have signed up for the new course so far. This includes 26 of Seed of Hope’s existing students who pay a reduced fee to study hairdressing in addition to the dressmaking course they enrolled to study. The ten external students pay 800ksh (£6.50) per month for what is anticipated to be an 8-12 month course. Students will practice on each other as well as fee-paying customers from the local community. Students and teachers who have had their hair styled at the salon are already attracting clients as they walk home from school with their new hairdos. Local churches have also been asked to announce the course and the existence of the salon to help promote it. When we asked teacher Njambi how the services offered compared to those available in local salons she told us “I don’t think there is any better salon than ours” and described it as a classic salon for such a rural setting but with some improvements. Within the first two months, the salon was making enough profit to cover the teacher’s costs so we are optimistic that this program will do well and would like to replicate it at our other centres.
Another exciting piece of news that came to us recently is that the parents/guardians of the students at our centre in Nyamache, Kisii, got together and raised enough money to buy a cow. This will be used to supply milk and also any calves produced will be sold to raise funds for the centre. It is great to see such support for the income generating activities at our centres as we feel these are the key to their sustainability. They also provide valuable experience to students as they see small businesses in action throughout their training.
Teacher Redemter from our Kitui centre gave us an update on the graduates’ businesses that were started in September 2010. She told us that all five shops that opened are doing well and gave us the example of one of the new business women: “Eunice is the second in her family. She has both parents but they are poor and could not afford to educate her past primary education so she joined our center. During her first year she could not keep up with the other girls and this made her do her grade exams in second year when she excelled. Along with fellow graduates she started a shop in Kamale shopping center and they are doing well here being the best in dressmaking and customer attraction. She buys her materials from Kitui town which is quite a distance and at first she used to walk so as to save money. She has managed to give a good name to our center due to her good work. She has plans to expand her shop when she gets more capital.”
Thank you to all our supporters on GlobalGiving who have helped Seed of Hope continue to offer girls dignity, hope and opportunity. Help us celebrate International Women's Day by telling your friends, family and colleagues about our work and together we'll help more girls on the "pathway to decent work".