By Dennis Koech
Joyce Ambogo is an entrepreneur in Kibera slum. She dropped out of school in her second year in high school due to lack of school fees when she was 15.
“I lost my father in 1998. I was chased from school because I lacked school fees. I really wanted to study.”
Many Kenyan girls drop out of school after primary school due to three main factors: poverty traditional patriarchal culture which favors the boy, and early pregnancy. According to the 2014 Kenya demographic and health survey, 11% of women age 15-19 were married.
With hopes shattered, Joyce stayed at home for a few years before being married. The young family later moved from western Kenya to Nairobi in search for opportunities. In Nairobi, they settled in Kibera slum, a place where her husband, a casual laborer, could afford. Joyce was a housewife.
She learnt about sustainable livelihoods program when she visited SHOFCO Kibera health clinic in 2017. She was trained on employability, business and entrepreneurship skills where she learnt, among others, financial literacy, saving, record keeping, costing, marketing, work ethics and work life balance.
She had an interest in starting her own business and persistently went to SHOFCO to enquire if she can be enrolled for any hands-on job such as tailoring and hairdressing
“One day my prayer was heard and I enrolled for hairdressing course. I was very happy when I graduated from the course because I knew I had the skill and would soon start my business,” Joyce says.
After the training, SHOFCO secured an internship for Joyce at a hairdressing company in 2018 where she used to be paid a KSh8,000 ($80) monthly stipend. She made saving from the stipend which she used to buy a hair dryer and blow-dry machine ready to start her hairdressing business.
The mother of four says: “When I took the hair drier to our house, my husband was amazed. He liked it and told me starting a business is possible. He drew savings from his manual job and gave it to me to rent this business space.”
She currently makes daily income of between KSh2,000 and KSh3000 ($20 and $30). She is a member of a village savings and loans account where she saves part of her income and draws cheap loans which she uses to expand her business. She has since diversified her business to include selling of cosmetics and shoes, and is planning to add bottled water and fizzy drinks business in future.
Her good customer service, communications and networking skills are her assets. “My customers are referring their friends here,” she says.
Joyce, a mentor said: “I have trained two ladies on hairdressing and they have gone ahead to start their businesses. We support each other.”