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Women Empowerment At Its Best – Meet Kiwaka Women’s Group From Waithaka

by Femme Staff
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Esther Munyiri is a 76 year old mother of six living what I’d call her best life in the outskirts of Nairobi. Aside from putting up her own residential home with the proceeds of her hard work, she’s also surrounded by a number of beautiful rental houses which she has build through sheer hard work and financial discipline. And that’s not all. She has other properties all over Nairobi and Kiambu which she has acquired over time.

Esther has always been a hard working entrepreneur whose first venture as a young woman was to go to Gikomba, buy second hand clothes, and sell at a profit. With her patience and a strong savings culture, she scaled her business up to not only buying and selling lose clothes but buying and selling in bales. Though not necessarily easy considering that she was also raising a young family at that time, getting into bales was less grueling and she was able to free up time and mental energy to look at other things. That was when her interest in property was born.

Throughout her evidently rewarding entrepreneurial journey, Esther has never struggled alone. She’s a founding member of Kiwaka Women’s Group based in Waithaka, and the group has been a long standing beneficiary of Equity Bank. All group members are elderly and for the over 20 years they’ve been a thing, Equity has always held their hands with training and expert financial and investing advise through its outreach program. Add repeat loans and you have a winning formula.

Kiwaka Women’s Group started as a Merry Go Round and with time, they have been able to use their unified discipline to become one of their local Equity Bank’s branch most trusted customers. Due to their impeccable track record in terms of loan requests and repayments, they’re now qualified to access upto Kshs.1M per individual member, which they invest and repay with the same diligence as always. Over the years, all the members have been empowered to grow in their lives and businesses, with three quarters of them having opted to be in property. They’ve been enabled to expand their businesses, educate their children and to take care of other expenses in their lives.

Perfect case in point – when we met Esther a few weeks ago she was struggling with a temporary disability caused by a fracture on her leg. Numerous surgeries have rendered her almost immobile for close to 5 months, with total immobility for the first 2. Now she can walk around with a clutch, but only within the confines of her home. Still, despite this disruption in her day to day activities, she’s not struggling to take care of her medical expenses and her numerous visits to her doctor. Aside from the fact that she’s able to live a comfortable life, this is a classic example of how years of good financial decisions can come through in old age.

Esther clearly has decades worth of work ethic and wealth creation knowledge and she does not hesitate to share it with anyone who will listen to her wise counsel. Her children are obviously the first beneficiaries of her time tested experiences and she’s a proud mother of very successful sons and daughters.

For example, one daughter who was present when we went visiting owns and operates Rimpet School in Waithaka. Esther held her daughter’s hand through all the thick times when the school could not seem to go beyond 50 students. She also introduced her to Equity Kawangware Branch which came through with loans for expansion and as at now, she has a thriving school with over 700 students, several buses and all the trappings of a successful school.

Esther is also a matriarch in her area and her good vibes do not end at home. She’s an informal mentor to over 90 young men and women in her neighborhood and many who have heeded her advice about life, money, savings and investment are doing good. In her kind motherly fashion which has earned her immense respect in the neighborhood, she drills into her mentees that every year that passes is a year gone.

So passionate is she about mentorship that even we did not leave without some wise words from her. Make the most of your time when you are young and energetic. Be smart about your money and invest wisely. Do not be fooled into making unfiltered expenses in your youth. Make a nest for yourself so that when old age and failing health catch up, you will be able to stand up for yourself.

That is one story of a woman whose actions and words are having a ripple effect of uplifting not just her immediate family, but also the community around her. A story that captures the essence of what Equity Bank’s vision is about empowering individuals and communities through financial uplifting.

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