Mamabiashara
Mama Biashara Projects

Raising money to fund sustainable businesses in the poorer areas of Kenya.

Mama Biashara has, to date, micro financed and supported around 300 small businesses for women, generally, ones with families to support.

Just £25 will start a business selling vegetables or second hand clothes. Even £5 has set up a chicken-head seller in Mathare (they make a delicious meal if you know how to cook them!) and she is still going strong. Having their own business transforms the lives of these women - it makes them independent, able to feed and house their families. And, more than that, the psychological and emotional lift it gives them is as good as medicine!


D.E.C.E.I.P.

DECIEP - and more specifically Felista Kibe - is what has kept Mama Biashara in Kenya. This project has been rescuing, feeding, caring for and loving orphaned and abandoned children. It is the work of Felista Kibe, a woman, herself from the slums, who has made these children her life's work. She has been doing this for over 10 years and I have been involved for 6.

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NGONG ROAD

Mama B has provided another small AIDS Charity (ALPHAO) with a popcorn making machine, giving them an income of 5,000ksh every week with which to help run their orphan support group.

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WAITHAKE (through DECEIP)

A series of Business Workshops and MicroFinance Market Days has supported dozens of other small businesses and craftsmen, improving their marketing skills, augmenting their sales, introducing them to new customers and provided advice on any questions they have.

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Awendo Project

Awendo is in South Nyanza. All that is there is sugar cane, poverty, sickness and people resigned and inured to both of the latter.  So far Mama B has started several dozen small businesses, supported a brick making project, built a children's home and paid for a great deal of emergency medical care. We take supplies for the tiny local school, a load of food supplements, and we are starting a big new project there to produce and supply affordable sanitary towels across as many areas as possible. There is more information on this project under its own heading.

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NGANDO

Jaja Fish is both a fish business and the heart of Mama Biashara in Ngando - one of the slums in the Dagoiretti district. Janet Akoth and Janet Ogindo (hence JaJa) have been with Mama B since the very beginning. Both Janets are HIV+ and have worked tirelessly in their community supporting, educating, fighting stigma. Janet Ogindo has just discovered that her 11 year old son Michael is also positive.

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KARIOBANGI

In a slum on the other side of Nairobi, Mama B was doing workshops within the FUDAKA project (see below) with a group of sex workers. It became apparent that the priority for these women was finding a way to get out of the sex industry, while still being able to feed and house their children. After some time researching possibilities, we have begun Mama Biashara Kariobangi.

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MAMA BIASHARA JUJA

Outside Nairobi Mama B has dug a well on a farm which has been dying due to lack of water. There are 4 generations of the same family living there. Water was found at 50 feet and a pump installed. The well will provide water for the foreseeable future. Until now, the nearest water was several kilometres away.

By way of 'interest' on the well, the farmer will be supplying water to the local community. 

Once the farm is fertile again, the local community will be first in line for work.

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Sex Workers Projects

Over the past couple of years Mama Biashara has been working with commercial sex workers across Nairobi. Sex work is almost always a last resort - women with no education or training who have to leave home at about fourteen and support themselves frequently have no other real option.  Mama Biashara will set them up in another business allowing them to leave the streets and the bars where, often, they are robbed, assaulted and raped by their clients.

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SAMBURU

In the Porro district of Samburu the nearest school is too far away to reach. A small education programme exists there, set up by a local man.

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Julius and the Kabiria Group

Jikomboe Upesi is a group of discordant couples (where one partner is positive and one is negative) living in the Kabiria / Kawangware slums of Nairobi.   The group was formed by Julius Mukangala, an amazing and dedicated man who first contacted Mama Biashara in 2008, after his home and butchery business were destroyed in the post-election violence.   Despite frequent illness and struggles to keep his own family fed and clothed, Julius started this group and approached Mama B around a year ago.

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RABBITS

This business was started by a group of 24 gay guys who bought and sold rabbits for meat. They now breed the rabbits themselves and sell not just the meat (mainly big orders to restaurants) but also the fur and the urine, which is an excellent fertiliser and growing in popularity amongst Kenya arable farmers.

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EGGS

This group was started by 18 former commercial sex workers, There are now 30 women and 5 men in the group – all former CSWs. They started selling eggs to Naivasha Prison and now sell in nearby town markets as well. They collect the eggs from the farm and take them – by a wheelbarrow bought as part of the set up grant – in a sort of relay from the farm the 20 kilometers top the prison.  They have bought a second wheelbarrow and are nearly at the stage of getting motorised transport !

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PEANUT BUTTER

This was started by 12 young Zimbabwean girls from a refugee community. Most of them were child brides and the third or fourth wife to their husbands. Mama B did a great training workshop with them and supplied a couple of blenders as well as the set up supply of peanuts, oil and salt.  They now sell wholesale and are more or less sole suppliers to their community. The group now numbers 26  - all young mothers and child brides - and they are buying a proper peanut butter making machine in January via our girls (more of whom anon) in China.

UPDATE SEPT 2015    Our group now numbers 39 exclusive of the original 12 – all still within the Zimbabwean community. Recently they all went to a car boot sale at the UN Cpmplex in Nairobi – a regular event run m,ainly for ex-pats.   There they got great exposure, some new customers and some very useful training. For example, a Sudanese lady taught them about cooking sukuma wiki in peanut butter and a Ugandan lady gave hem a recipe for chicken and matoke in peanut butter sauce. Both ladies are also new customers.

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TROUSERS

This group was started by 20 young men who had a contact at Gikomba market where all the containers of old clothes come in for sale. Many of them, interestingly, still have their tags from Oxfam and Save the Children etc still attached. So be aware that when you donate there, your clothes may end up making someone a fair bit of money …   Anyway, our young men got a grant to sell trousers – the 'first camera' trousers (top grade). They added another dozen young men to the group and now have a big stall themselves at the market. They started up a group for women selling blouses and shirts and have also spawned an ironing business there, with two irons and boards.

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SCHOOL BOOKS

This began as a very small group of 10 people in Kawangware, selling second hand school books. And the occasional … home made copy. The group is now around 40 strong, with branches in Limuru and Nairobi Town

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KUCHA KOOL

(Hospital)

We started with a small group of 12 young mothers, trained them in manicure and pedicure and gave them all the start up kit including 12 nailpolishes. They have developed a great method of approaching the matrons of various hospitals (after the first one that was set up for them) and asking permision to approach the families of patients, offering the manicure and pedicure services. We now have 25 girls (and growing fast) who go round the hospitals in groups of 8, now including 2 hairdressers in each group.

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TEA LEAVES AND SPICES

Majani – Tea Leaves

This started in the Limuru area with 3 mamas who had a new way of selling tea leaves to the poorest women in the small rural villages. This subsequently expanded into spices.

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RICE

This has been very successful for us because of our insistance that any rice selling mamas buy together in groups to give them wholesale bargaining power.   From a few scattered ladies we now have 120 in the Nairobi area, 34 in Mpekatoni, 34 in Ganze 16 and 10 in Watamu. There are also another 22 individual mamas selling in scattered rural locations.

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SMOKIES AND FISH

Smokies are small sausages which are sold from small heated carts like mini ice cream carts. 

By banding together, our lady fish sellers have upped their orders to include hotels and restaurants, thereby increasing their own buying power and getting good deals from the brokers.

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WATERPROOF PANTIES

For kids, of course.  Mums cannot afford Pampers nor do they have the ability to wash reusables. There are now more than 500 women across these areas up and running and making and selling waterproof pants and, as with all Mama B businesses, it grows by the day.

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PIG BOYS

A group of six young men were started with a grant for buying and selling pigs. They started with three and built from there. When the wonderful Neil came for a  Mama Biashara visit to Kenya, they waylaid him and got a grant for a boar. In Neil's honour he was named Dirty Neil. He has been rented out at 1000 (about £8) a pop (as it were) as well as fathering 24 Dirty Little Neils and Nellies for Mama Biashara to start other businesses with.

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PUPU BOYS

This was an enterprising group of 19 lads who had all been in trouble with the police who now create dairy cow fodder from chicken shit.

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MASHUKKA

We started with a group of 12 mamas (again, ex commercial sex workers) who wanted to buy from Tanzania where most of the shukas are made nowadays.  We now have more than 95 mamas buying and selling across the Mara, down to Mombasa and 25 who do the travelling to Tanzania. This group is growing very fast.

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KUKU

This has always been a popular business. We have lots of groups from long ago but things really too off when we met the wonderful Joseph Karanja. He came to us from prison and wanted to bring chicken from Migori. He worked incredibly hard, he built his business, he bought a truck, he started a chicken farm of his own in Migori and, all the time, he helped our new little groups. He found them orders from his customer base, he gave them the lowest prices for the highest quality and he gave them free transport for the first month of their business. Thanks to Joseph Karanja our Kuku businesses are everywhere and thriving. We have more than 130 business people selling and the numbers are growing exponentially. Joseph was killed by the appalling nature nature of the Kenyan health system and the complete incompetence and absolute arrogance of its doctors. We miss him very much. His farm in Migori is now run by his widow with the help of four Mama Biashara chicken people whom Joseph himself helped to train. His legacy continues …

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MASHALLAH

(Toiletries)

Women (many of them young commercial sex workers) begin with us selling toiletries and cosmetics door to door. A kind of Kenyan Avon lady.

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VICKY'S CLEANERS

This began with Vicky coming to us having been offered the contract to clean and maintain a hotel just outside Nairobi. This was a hotel that rented by the hour. And Vicky and her friends (and their clients) were regular customers.  

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BRAS AND PANTIES

The businesses began when I took some donated bras to Kenya. We have to thank our lovely customer Yasmin for them. They generated amazing business and now I take bras everytime I go. Supplemented with new bras bought in Eastliegh, we have now started  16 businesses in Kiambu county, 9 in Limuru and down towards the coast another 29. So we REALLY need more bras please …

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CONFECTIONARY

These businesses started in Voi where ladies were being used by businessmen to sell sweets and biscuits on Voi main road. They would be paid about 70 pence per day.  We gave them their own stock and 12 of them started up business. Business is growing and once every week they all contribute £1 which makes enough money to start another mama in business. So in the two months since they started there are another 8 mamas up and running.

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CAKE BAKING

We started with 9 girls who were given a professional 5/6 week training paid for by Mama B and are now able to do anything – last year they made 9 wedding cakes and already they have many more on order foor December which is Wedding Month in Kenya. These original girls are now training others and, all in all, since last year they have grown from 9 to just over 80 and growing fast.

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JIKO TRAINING

Starting with a small group of five boys, we now have had 22 men trained in making jikos (small stoves) and all are fully self employed and working in all areas of Kenya – even some who went down to the coast after the Mpekatoni ethnic cleansing attack.  Original training was paid for by Mama B and then our own boys did the training of the new boys themselves.

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SAMOSA

We started with a grant to 5 young guys who had been in trouble with the police because they are gay.   The total grant was about  £50 for the group. From a standing start they quickly expanded to making and selling 1500 samosas in the morning and 1000 in the evening to Kawangware's commuters and business people.  Cooking is done in the back yard of a house rented by a Mama Biashara Mama.  That was about 6 months ago.

We now have sixty people in Kawangware, another 30 in Limuru and these groups are growing logorithmically.  We sell to schools and offices and we hawk them around bars in the evening.  They are getting such a great rep we now have Supermarkets asking to buy wholesale.

Update Sept 2015

Now around 70% of the samosas sold in Limuru are Mama Biashara samosas.  Groups in Nairobi and elsewhere are growing fast.

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THABAI

Stinging Nettles

From 30 Mamas and a grant of £200 (which works out at £7.00 each    Now hundreds of mamas.   And we sell in Tanzania and Uganda – again because of the quality.

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VITAMBA

We gave a grant to some young women in a Zimbabwean refugee community – most of them 4th wives. The first group numbered 25 and got an order from Sudan for Vitamba. We now have 104 in Nairobi alone with orders from Uganda, Tanzania as well as Sudan.

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COFFEE

From 1 coffee urn we now have 15 of them all over Nairobi. Each urn supports 30 business people working in shifts – 15 day and 15 night.

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BANANAS

Bananas – older men with an average of 4 children. We started with 25 and now have 164 selling both wholesale and retail. Plus 30 at the other end of the line in Kiisii

 Update Sept 2015

We have lost count of the banana people and how far they have gone.

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ACCESSORIES

Accessories and jewellery – hawker girls from the streets.  We have two girls who were trained by Mama B and got jobs in China in sales. They send a load of stuff for our hawker girls to sell. We now have 100 girls all across Nairobi and some excellent contacts in China.

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MANDAZI / CHAPATI

We now sell Mandazi across four counties and have about 80 men and women in each county. This grew  from an original grant to four ladies in Limuru.

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RECYCLED FUEL

3 old ladies. Now 20. Making money from nothing ! Litter and cardboard boxes, are mixed with twigs and charcoal dust and goat poo. It burns very well.

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FUNDI AND TILING

We now cover Nairobi, Mombasa, Voi and Watamu. Originally four groups of twenty men were given grants. From there we now have 430 men working on decorating and building contracts. The groups are still growing well. The existing groups train up their own new members.

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DETERGENT AND JIK

The chemicals for detergent making are bought for about £3.50 for 20 litres' worth. The selling price is around 3.00 per litre. The Jik (bleach) is brought by me, in tablet form from the UK (£1 for 36 litres' worth) and sold at about £1 per litre.

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FIBRE PILLOWS

We have five Fibre Pillow groups: Dandora, Watamu, Kebagare and Lamu

Dandora was the original group which has grown from 25 to 48 Mamas and the rest are about 30 women in each.

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BUIBUI

(Hijab)

We started with 12 girls quite recently and they have already grown to 22. Watch this space !

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SNOOKER

The boys we started up in the snooker hall have moved to Mombasa where they are doing good business.

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SHISHA

Our shisha groups in watamu are doing great business. The original group are now working a supervisors for other new groups in new hotels along the coast.  The couple who helped us set up the groups initially in their hotel have left because of the tension in this area. But our boys have been left to supervise the running of the entire hotel !  Bit of a result.

This list does not include our work in  Awendo – where we have built a small school and started a whole other raft of businesses.

Neither does it include our groups in Western Kenya where we have a new centre and have many groups making and selling bricks, selling rice, cooking fat, vegetables, wholesaling avocados and selling ladies underwear.

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