Margaret Wanjiku is a mother of 7 children who has single handed raised all of them to the level they are at. Her husband passed away in 1985 leaving her with the big family and a big chunk of undeveloped land. By that time, her youngest child was 8 years old and the rest were barely able to go to school. Life was very difficult as all they depended on was subsistence farming. From the little income she would raise, she managed to put up some semi-permanent rental structures which raised some money to sustain the family.
Margaret had a big piece of land which was not utilised, she had no money to put additional rental units and only hoped that one day a solution would come her way as the demand for rental houses growing by the day in Kangemi where she resides.
The single mother pressed until one day she decided to confide in a friend whose situation hadn’t been so different from hers. This friend told her of the savings group she had joined and how her life had started to improve, encouraging her to join one too so she can access some loans and boost her investments. At first Margaret feared to join the group that the friend had suggested. She had heard of many failure stories surrounding borrowing from microfinance institutions and she was worried that this could end up like many of those other stories where people would have their property confiscated due to failure to clear the loans.
One good day, she was listening to her favourite radio station and then it so happened that, Letshego (then referred to as Micro Africa) was advertising a sensitization meeting in which they were going to train people in investing in housing and offer access to loans. Being an inquisitive person, she set out to the Letshego office seeking more information on the arrangement of housing loans. After having all her questions addressed, she was convinced enough to join. Letshego staff trained them in the basic business principles with a focus on housing investment. The housing microfinance loan in Letshego targets mostly the low income groups. The process is done in 2 phases where individuals are supported in putting up small-semi permanent units and as income stabilises and increases, they gradually transition to the permanent structures. The loans can be used to start foundations, complete already started structures or build and complete depending on the beneficiary’s need. This all sounded so developmental and hopeful that Margaret realized she needed this support to advance.
She signed up for her first loan of Kshs 1,000,000 which she used to construct 20 semi-permanent units for the first phase. Then her monthly income increased by Kshs 87,500.
She signed up for her first loan of Kshs 1,000,000 which she used to construct 20 semi-permanent units for the first phase. Then her monthly income increased by Kshs 87,500. With a loan instalment of Kshs 50,000, she could comfortably service her loan and take care of the needs she had in the family.
With the high demand for low-rate rentals in her area, Margaret saw it wise to add more units. So the second loan was utilised in adding 22 units which are to be completed by Jan 2015. With this addition, her monthly income is projected to increase by Kshs 77,000.
Currently, Margaret has a monthly income of Kshs 164,500 which is quite impressive considering that she started from scratch, having no stable source of income. When you talk to her now, you can see a confident and happy old lady who has no worry at all. Soon with a continuous and stable income, she will be able to transition into phase 2 of building where she will start constructing the permanent rental structures.