Back to school (fees) in Kenya
Small Business Fund entrepreneurs and leaders in Korogocho, Nairobi hosting Tanya in June. Wambui, pictured on left edge of the group is one of our local coordinators for SIA.
It’s back-to-school season in North America! This month is when so many kids head back to classes after a long holiday. If you regularly follow SIA’s blog, you’ll know that many of our Small Business Fund entrepreneurs use their earnings to help send children to school.
Government elementary schools in Kenya are technically free and yet there are fees for teachers and classroom “extras” (supplies). A three-month term in Korogocho, Kenya will cost the parents $15 per student. This is a lot for families scraping to get by. And yet, education is important to people like Jean, Benard, and Susan. When I met them in Nairobi in June, they told me about how their businesses are helping to pay school fees for their families.
A few years ago, Jean’s brother died and now she also pays for her nephew’s school fees.
Jean is trained as a nurse and she used her $150 grant from Spirit in Action to increase the stock of medication at her chemist shop. She buys pills in bulk and then sells them in small quantities to neighbors, marking down each sale carefully in her record book. She has a bright blue shop, with shelves of ibuprofen, cough syrup, anti-acids, and other over-the-counter drugs.
Jean buys pills in bulk and then sells them in small quantities to neighbors, marking down each sale carefully in her record book.
The business is going well and Jean uses the profit to reinvest and expand the offerings at her shop, as well as pay for rent and school fees. A few years ago, her brother died and now Jean also pays for her nephew’s school fees. She says that one of the challenging parts of her job is turning away parents who have sick children and who are unable to pay for medication. She practices Sharing the Gift by helping those who come to her in need.
Bernard started his business by repairing shoes and has now expanded into making new shoes. Income from shoe repairs, he uses to expand the business and buy more leather. The money he makes from selling new shoes, he uses to pay school fees. He has three children: two in secondary (high) school and one in primary (elementary) school. I visited him in his stall along a bustling street in Koch. He pays $10/month to use this small corner for his business! This is so different from rural shops, which may not have to pay rent to use the space.
Tanya visits Bernard in his stall along a bustling street in Koch. He pays $10/month to use this small corner for his business!
The money Bernard makes from selling new shoes, he uses to pay school fees for his three children.
Susan has a small grocery kiosk right around the corner from Jean and Bernard. She sells kale, bananas, onions, cabbage, tomatoes, and other vegetables that are staples in the Kenyan diet. Susan has one daughter and pays for the school fees for her two grandchildren. She also pays the fees for one of the neighbor boys!
Susan has one daughter and pays for the school fees for her two grandchildren. She also pays the fees for one of the neighbor boys!
Photographs by James Gikonyo