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Teresa opens a barber shop

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

An empowered woman breaks into a male-dominated field

Teresa Mwonjaru is a 63 years old woman from Thinyaine, Meru County, Kenya. She is a single mother and a granny to two young boys and a girl. The grandchildren live with her after the death of her daughter.

Women members of CIFORD who meet to discuss issues related to gender, health, economy, and the environment.

Teresa was stressed and discouraged, feeling unable to provide for her family. Then a friend encouraged her to join the Makena Thinyaine Women’s Group. This group is one of the peer-support circles that is part of the grassroots organization Community Initiatives for Rural Development (CIFORD). Together the group trains women on various social economical skills. Teresa began saving the proceeds from her kitchen garden (a small garden next to the house) and participated in the group’s Merry-Go-Round Table Banking. An idea struck Teresa. She realized that the area had no barber shop and she grew determined to venture into this male-dominated business sector.

“It’s about passion, persistence, and commitment”

And how is Teresa doing as a woman in the barber salon? In her own words, “everything we do in our lives is not about gender but about passion, persistence, and commitment.

“With all the empowerment and training seminars that I and the group members have received from CIFORD, we believe that both genders are equal, even though the community perceives female as the weaker gender.”

A Busy Business

Teresa runs the only barber shop in the Thinyaine Area. She currently has one shaving machine and is working hard to add another. Her business is doing well since many students and other community members visit her shop. “In my shop I have also used the hygiene lessons I learned in CIFORD training, which makes more customers visit my place,” says Teresa proudly. The income from the barber shop helps her support and educate her three grandchildren.

This story is a good example of the impact of CIFORD’s wonderful empowerment program in rural Kenya. SIA is very proud to partner with them on various programs like these over the years.

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