Emmy Ronoh, from the Diocese of Kericho in Kenya, recently visited our offices at Mary Sumner House where she talked to Sophia Jones, Mothers’ Union’s Senior Communications Manager, about her work and the positive difference that savings and loans are having on the community
Emmy worked as Community Development Coordinator (CDC) with the diocese up until late last year when she joined Mothers’ Union partner, Five Talents.
She recalls, ‘When I was working with Mothers’ Union I saw the need to empower the women. Eighty percent were illiterate and they needed to have something to do because they couldn’t access these other big banks. So we thought of having small savings groups with the ladies that would enable them to access small loans to either begin or invest more in the small scale businesses that they were doing.’
The Diocese of Kericho covers 21,000km and includes three counties – Kericho, Narok and Bomet. A major issue in the diocese has been negative cultural practices towards women. Narok, where 80% of the population is Maasai, the women have started savings and loans groups. ‘This was not the case before. Most of our cultures, especially where I come from, women are not allowed to own property. We would only own maybe one chicken and nothing more but that is changing,’ says Emmy.
‘It’s changing because of the empowerment that we are doing with our people and we believe that times are changing, eyes are opening up and people are beginning to think and work together. They are also beginning to send their children to school,’ she continues.
Emmy started the programme in 2012. It was so successful that the now empowered women saw their household incomes and livelihoods improve as a result of their saving which has helped pay school fees, health care costs and start or grow their businesses. This led to other church members wanting to join the groups. Emmy approached Five Talents to work alongside them. ‘Because of the desire from others we were prompted to think about how to accommodate everyone. That’s why we approached Five Talents,’ explains Emmy.
Five Talents, is an Anglican microfinance charity working alongside the Anglican Church across east Africa, and other countries, to set up savings and training schemes so that people can support their families, their communities and themselves.
Nicola Lawrence, Head of Development & Policy at Mothers’ Union, says, ‘The fact that it went beyond just Mothers’ Union members shows how we are acting as an agent of change in the whole community and is being inclusive of all women in its work regardless of religion, age and tribe.’
Emmy, a mum to three boys aged 22, 17 and 15, is still an active member and leader of Mothers’ Union in her diocese which has at least 300 members. She is excited about the changes that are taking place throughout her community. Changes for the better.