ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

March 29th – Our New Mamas

Welcome to our newest group of Mama Nguvu candidates. If you are new to this program, Mama Nguvu stands for “Empowering the Mother”. We believe that by empowering the mother, all her children will benefit as she ensures everyone receives an equal share of her “wealth”.

The way the program works is that we go into a community and hold an initial meeting explaining our program. We then take all the applications (in this case there were 208) and whittle them down to a more manageable number. Each Mama goes through a brief meeting with us so that we can learn more about their ideas and get a feel for who they are.

The final stage is completely up to you! Each Mama is posted here and waits for sponsorship from our generous community. You can choose to fully sponsor one Mama or sponsor a bit to one or more. The Mamas do not pay the money back but must put all their children into school. They are also required to be part of a savings and loans program and must contribute 60,000 (about $20) over the course of the year to sponsor another Mama next year. Each woman is followed weekly for a year and reports are sent monthly outlining their progress. You will be able to follow how they are doing by following our blog.

Twenty dollars can make such an enormous difference in the lives of these amazing women. You can donate through Paypal (even if you don’t have an account) and in the “notes to seller”, please identify who you want your donation to go toward. Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity!


Hadijah N., 28, 3 children, married


Hadijah rents a space (literally a space next to the sidewalk) where she cooks small batches of chips and sells them to her customers. She can sell up to 25lbs of chips a day but her stove and frying pan are small so her potential customers often become frustrated in having to wait and move to other vendors. When she is done, she can leave her table at the stall behind her space but she has to carry everything else back home. She has 3 children, aged 3, 6 and 8, and they often come after school to help her carry her items back home. She always sells out of chips. Her husband is a shoe seller so he buys shoes from the market and then displays them at Oweno Market for sale to those who will sell from the street. She currently makes 15,000 a week ($5.50) and says her biggest expenses are food and water.

$100 buys Hadijah a larger frying pan, a larger charcoal burner, an umbrella, and pays 3 months’ rent.


Lillian N. 34, single (husband vanished when she was pregnant with her fifth child), 5 children


Lillian is currently renting a popcorn machine from a friend and is very successful at her business. She has a strong customer base. She rents a secure location with power to run the machine. She wants to have her own machine so that she reduces her overhead. Her friend lives in another area so even if she was to start making popcorn, they would not be in competition. Her youngest is 2 and her oldest is 14. At the moment, she is making 30,000 per week (just over $10) and says that her biggest expenses are food, water and power.

$125 buys a new popcorn machine.


Asia B., 32, 6 children, married


Asia is a stay-at-home mom as she has 3 children under the age of 5. She wants to gain some independence from her husband who is a scrap metal seller. He gives her a small amount of money daily to buy food and water and each day, she tries to save 1,000 in order to have some small money in case there is ever a sudden cost she needs to pay. She has a niece who does book making who taught Asia how to make them as well so that when her orders are big, she can go and help her. She wants to start making them herself as she can make them from home and either sell them from there or take them to sell to schools and stationery shops. Eventually she would like to have her own shop to sell her books. She needs the initial investment into the materials to start her business.

$150 buys loose papers, cardstock for covers, binding glue, binding, gauze, cloth for the covers, and sewing needles.


Justine N., 45, single, 8 children


Justine currently has three saucepans that she rents out but the third is damaged and leaking on the side so is no longer usable. These saucepans can cook 50kg of rice so they are rented for weddings and other large gatherings. She can rent them at least twice a week and earns 15,000 per saucepan per day. The renters have them for 24 hours but often fail to return them on time. She says that she has enough business for 4 or even more saucepans as demand is high and she is often turning customers away. She stores the saucepans at home where they are safe. She currently has a daughter that is going to tailoring school, a daughter in high school and the rest of her children are in primary school. She learned the trade from her mother and they worked together until her mother passed away.

$175 buys one massive saucepan (she would like 2 if possible!).


Hamidah N., 42, widow, 6 children


Hamidah has many years of experience raising chickens with her husband but when he passed away, she found herself with a limited income and more expenses. She sold the majority of her chickens to pay for school fees and has only remained with 60 chicks. She buys a few when she can to increase her stock but all the income she generates when she sells them goes to clear her bills at the neighbourhood shops where she spends on credit (as they know she will have chickens to sell and will pay later) or to cover school fees. She is part of a savings and loans program for women where each week they are required to put a small amount into the cash box and then each week one woman can borrow some as needed (each woman has a specific week). It was Hamidah’s week this week and she borrowed 140,000 to pay off some school fees for her daughter. She is now responsible for paying that back into the cash box. As she has already raised chickens, Hamidah has a coop and some of the supplies. Once her current batch is old enough to be sold, she wants to pay off her debts and then restock with 200 chicks.

$350 buys 200 chicks, 10 water jugs, 10 feeding troughs, 1 bag of charcoal to keep the chicks warm, 200 units of electricity, 3 rounds of vaccinations, and 100kg of chicken feed.


Haminah N., 45, single, 10 children

“HOTEL” (a roadside stall that sells food)

Haminah has more than 20 years’ experience cooking and selling food. She had an established business but the owner sold the stall and she was forced to close. She now cooks chapatti from her home and sells them to the students who attend the high school next to her home. Haminah knows that because of the students, she can easily sell food and drinks from her home. She has a child that can come home at lunchtime to help her with the serving. Haminah’s first three priorities are to put up an overhang to shade her customers, to buy some chairs, and to have a fridge so that the students can buy juice or soda to go with their chapatti. If possible, she would like to offer a more extensive menu but she knows that the cost of a fridge is high so she does not want to ask for too much.

$375 buys a fridge, chairs, and builds the overhang. – first priority

$200 buys saucepans, plates, forks, a charcoal stove, tables and a kettle. – second priority


Pulakiseda N., 38, single, 5 children


Pulakiseda already has a small shop that she rents. One of the items she purchases to sell is g-nut powder that she gets for 5,400/kg. From one kilo, she makes about 600 shillings profit once she has separated it into smaller bags to sell. If she purchases a sack of g-nuts and grinds them herself, she will make 2000-4000 shilling profit per kilo. Pulakiseda asked around about the cost of a machine and also investigated if there was anyone in her neighbourhood who had a machine as she wanted to ensure she could be successful with this business. She says that she is the only one who will be grinding her own nut powder for individuals and restaurants to buy in the area. These machines are expensive but there is huge potential in this business.

$650 purchases a g-nut machine, a large sack of g-nuts for grinding, two buckets, and an accurate weigh scale


Jane N., 50, widow, 6 children


Jane is the only water seller in her area. She has a large tank that she has filled by the city water suppliers and then she sells that water to the community. The tank she has is small and old so she is constantly welding it to fix the holes. It desperately needs to be replaced. She wants to replace it with a larger tank as she often runs out of water before her community’s needs are met. If they don’t get water from her, they have to walk to the communal tap to fill their jerry-cans. The water she sells should technically also be safer than the water that comes from those taps.

$750 buys a 10,000 litre water tank.

Remember that you do not need to sponsor a full Mama. Many smaller donations will quickly fund a larger project. If there isn’t one particular Mama that speaks to you, please consider even donating $5 toward the general Mama pot and we will use that money to “top up” someone who is close to being fully funded. Thank you!

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