A little goes a long way

“I joined Nabosa Housing Cooperative in 2015 following a recommendation by a friend who had joined it the previous year. At the time, they were planning to start a housing project and this caught my attention since I needed more living space."

Ms. Mary Miriti is 40 years old and a single mother of two.   

My family had outgrown the self-contained house I was leasing at CHF 100. My children no longer had enough space to play since the area was congested. Each house was restricted to a very small plot so we had very little freedom,” explains Mary. 

Joining the cooperative unearthed a plethora of opportunities for Mary. It was while attending a regular member meeting that she learnt about Swisscontact.  

“I became very active in the cooperative and was soon selected as a leader. Swisscontact facilitated a training session in Naro Moru and I was selected to attend. The training was very insightful. We learnt a lot about leadership qualities and proper financial management. Since then, I have noticed a change in the way I carry myself. I interact with people better, solve issues diplomatically, handle teamwork and do my work well.” 

To purchase her house through the cooperative, Mary first went through a registration process. She paid a deposit of CHF 100 each month to reach a target of CHF 1,600 before gaining access to the property. Mary had to sacrifice a lot to live the life she yearned for. To date, she still saves with the cooperative and contributes a monthly fee of CHF 130. She hopes to finalise the purchase by 2023. 

“I always dreamt of owning my own home. The cooperative was selling one-bedroom houses so I decided to expand the one I was buying to accommodate my growing children. I took a loan of CHF 8,000 from the SACCO (Savings and Credit Cooperative) for the house expansion and converted my property to a comfortable three-bedroom house.” 

Mary works as a farmer. She grows potatoes, maize, and beans for sale. She has converted a portion of her new property to cater to her farming needs. In her plot, she also rears chicken, goats and fish.  

“I am happy to be a member of Nabosa Cooperative. The coronavirus pandemic reduced the spending power of many so the income I used to receive from farming reduced. It was comforting to not have my ex-landlord chase me for rent each month. The SACCO understood the challenges I was facing and extended a moratorium for a few months.” 

After starting her farming business in her plot, Mary feels more active. She wakes up early and tends to her animals even before she drinks her first cup of tea. After that she goes out to sell her produce with the hopes of earning a decent income to support her family. “Having my garden within my proximity has helped me reduce my costs drastically and I have noticed I am saving more now. I no longer buy vegetables, eggs, milk and meat since I produced them on my own. In a few months, my first fish harvest should be ready. I am very excited. My life has changed and I’m trying to utilize all the space I have now to achieve the most.”  

Mary tackles every day with a plan. Her biggest pressure at this time is paying back the loan she took from the SACCO. With that in her mind, she works harder so she can earn her money. She also needs to make sure she has food at home and can pay for her children’s school fees. With many things to take care of, she cannot afford to sit around. 

“In ten years, I aspire to be a very prominent businesswoman. I want to continue to develop my plot. My biggest achievement so far is owning this house. I am very comfortable. It is a home that my children can come to and know they can stay. I am very proud of it. I would advise people to join a cooperative. Push yourselves to plan and get a house, space where you can live. With a landlord, you cannot be independent. I started with a little money. Learn how to save even if it is something small. Those few shillings can help and within no time, your money will grow and work for you.” 

Read another story on Nabosa Housing Cooperative here. 

The Inclusive Finance Programme (IFP) was financed by Stiftung ESPERANZA, Credit Suisse Foundation, Kanton Basel–Landschaft, Kanton Zurich, Stadt Zurich, among others, and was part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which was co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).