Exclusive Interview with a SIA Local Coordinator!
At the heart of Spirit in Action is a deep respect for people dedicated to changing their own communities. One of these people that puts truly puts God’s Spirit into action is Dennis Kiprop, a SIA Small Business Fund Coordinator in Eldoret, Kenya. I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis face-to-face during my trip to Kenya last summer and I snuck time into our very busy conference schedule to interview him about his work with SIA. Below is a transcript of our interview, edited for length.
Coordinator Dennis Kiprop and Mary Koima at her bakery shop. We had chipati from her store one day for lunch.
Dennis Kiprop [DK]: First I want to say thank you. I’m so thankful to God for this opportunity to talk together, to share, and be praying. SIA shares a lot of love – God’s love – and through sharing love I just feel connected with what SIA does and so I really enjoy it.
Tanya Cothra [TC]: What do you like most about your work with SIA?
DK: I like being with people. I like that every time I write a report I take time saying to God, “thank you for this work; that you have trusted me with your work.” When I write I feel some joy coming out from the computer and it is very nice. I also have been trying new ways of reporting; like the way we can report to better capture the areas that we are impacting people not just outside but also inside. But the challenge is that I don’t have a camera. [Tanya’s Note: Dennis didn’t know at the time of the interview that I had a digital camera to give him from a SIA donor! We’re received some wonderful photos from Dennis in the last year.]
TC: You’ve been a SIA local coordinator now for 3 years. What long-term benefits do you see in your community?
DK: First let me share the way I do the [SIA Small Business Fund] group training. They will come together as a group – as different people, different tribes. And when they go back to their communities they always share what they have gotten here.
I see lives not just changed but lives improved in terms of how [people] take care of their families. As it is captured in one of the questions in the [3-Month Report form], they feel better about the future and medical care and all that. I have also seen a long-term impact for people getting motivated and feeling better about themselves.
TC: How do you follow-up with the small business groups after the initial training?
DK: When I am following up sometimes [the distance] is far, so over the weekends I take a matatu [bus] to see various groups. I call them and some call me to come and check. [Tanya’s Note: The next day of the conference we went as a group to visit some of the SIA small business in the area.]
TC: You said you would like to start a savings and loans group in your area. Do people use something like that now?
DK: They do – but mostly women. It is the practice of the women that they choose their own leaders and they make contributions every month, maybe to buy utensils for one person. The next month they do something else for a different person. I have seen that.
TC: Do people use micro-finance institutions?
DK: They do but the standards of lending are a bit high. You have to have cash flow and you must have an account with [the bank]. So I wish they would come together so that they could save in a cooperative – they would be able to lend money at a very affordable interest rate. So that has also been my dream for these groups to come together to share these resources to do something good that can benefit everyone.
Dennis Kiprop encourages people to think positively and see the good in their lives. Pictured here with Tanya.
TC: Any last thoughts to share?
DK: We want to share the stories where we see empowerment [in our area]. We like to see people who are powerful and determined. I really like the message encouraging people to think positively in life whatever the problem you are going through – that God has a lesson for you, so try to understand what the lesson is for you. And through that positive thinking realize people get motivated and soon through time they become a success. In all matters in life, I like to think positively. I like encouraging myself and saying you can do it, you can do it.
**Feel free to share your words of encouragement with Dennis in the comments section below!**