In Correspondence with Justine Awino, CEO of Rhoi Creations, Kisumu, Kenya
Justine Awino is the CEO of Rhoi Creations. Located in Kisumu and Nairobi, Kenya, Rhoi Creations focuses on custom made interior design. Founded in 2012, the company transforms the clients’ home and office into beautiful and functional unique spaces. Justine spoke to us about her entrepreneurial journey and how COVID has impacted her business.
In Correspondence with Caroline Lusinde, CEO of Wee Care Daycare, Kibera, Kenya
Caroline Lusinde is the CEO of Wee Care Daycare, in Kibera, Kenya. Her daycare began when she, as a single mother, found herself reluctant to leave her son in the morning to go off to work. Wee Care takes care of roughly 50 children, of ages ranging between 3 months and 6 years old. With the business disruption brought by Covid-19, Caroline had to find a way to continue providing her services, moving away from in-person teaching and adopting online methods instead. Below, Caroline shares with us her story.
Entrepreneurship has flourished in Kenya over the past few years as technological advancements, access to capital and networks, amongst many other things, have enabled the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Following the success of Silicon Valley, Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is emerging as the country’s own “Silicon Savannah”, hosting over 200 startups with a combined valuation of USD 1 Billion (Wired, 2018).
77% of Sub-Saharan entrepreneurs find access to debt financing - also known as loans - difficult (Viffa Consult, 2018). But why is it so hard for business owners to get the capital they need? Reviewing the main financial services options available to entrepreneurs, we find that while various benefits can be derived from them, they often are not perfectly tailored to the small and medium business owners’ needs.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, the World Bank has declared that the number of people living in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than US$1.90 per day, is expected to increase for the first time since 1998. While middle-to-low income countries have made developmental progress since then, their economies remain fragile: the COVID-19 pandemic will likely push an additional 40-60 million people into extreme poverty (World Bank, 2020).
We’ve all heard the story: a low-income individual builds a successful business thanks to micro-loans, creating employment for many and improving their living conditions in doing so. Many micro-lending companies of all types, especially mobile-based ones, have emerged in recent years (The Conversation, 2019). They claim financial inclusion as the best way to achieve long-term impact, as was the case for Agness Mpinganjira - an example of many. Being a mother of four, Agness was struggling to financially support her children through her milk business. Using her microloan, Agness was able to expand her business and begin selling scones, increasing her weekly income fivefold, from £1.05 to as much as £5.20. In the end, the microloan allowed Agness to pay entirely for her children’s education (Microloan Foundation, 2019). While this story may be inspiring, it is not always reflective of the reality of individuals in Sub-Saharan countries.