For the young women at Moving the Goalposts (MTG) – our Kenya-based partner that promotes gender equality through football – a love of sport is not the only thing that unites them. Speaking with many of the players, their shared ambition to achieve entrepreneurial success is overwhelmingly striking. With MTG’s support, many of the players have set up ‘Savings Groups’ to channel these ambitions and provide the skills and capital they need to assist them on their business journeys.
“BYOB” – a phrase often overheard at sessions – explains Rose, means “Be Your Own Boss.” And this sentiment is felt throughout MTG’s work. Along with a group of her fellow players, Rose is a member of the Mnarani ‘Out-of-School Savings Group’. The groups are one part of MTG’s holistic programme which supports their players to access education, gain leadership and business skills and provide girls with the ability and confidence to achieve financial independence.
With 80% of adolescent girls in coastal Kenya living in absolute poverty, financial barriers to education remain high. Despite the abolition of school fees for some secondary education, the additional costs of uniforms, food and other charges continue to bar affordable schooling. With high rates of teen pregnancy and early marriages, girls often have to leave education early, limiting their future opportunities and financial prospects.
Saving for the future
Each week, the Savings Groups congregate at afternoon meetings. The girls are a mixture of those identified by staff during field training sessions who may struggle to pay for education: whether they have dropped out of school; have finished secondary school and are hoping to go to college; or have never been to school. Others have joined after seeing groups flourish, attracted by the idea of establishing a savings culture.
As the girls gather, they start by collecting their weekly “10 bob” (10 KES) sub, which they add to the savings box plus their own extra amounts; many of the girls in the Mnarani League use this group to save the stipend they receive for volunteering with MTG.
Once the money is collected, they move on to the food. Each girl is nominated a number which corresponds to the staple food item they are asked to buy that week. One by one, they place essentials like oil, pasta, and flour on the table. The two remaining girls then collect their hoard to take home. Each week, two different girls will take their selection.
Sharing these essential items together encourages members to create and stick to a weekly budget. Most say this is really useful for supporting their families and discourages them from spending their money more extravagantly.
From the shared pot, the girls may later request to take out personal loans, but the Mnarani group have greater ambitions for the cash they have pooled; inspired by the success of other MTG Savings Groups, they are hoping to set up a joint business.
Team players to business leaders
MTG supports members to access capital, and provides the entrepreneurship training needed to start and manage businesses. Some of the Savings Groups already make and market items – one group is successfully selling soap, and another sandals – to generate a greater return on their savings.
Rehema tells us that the Mnarani group is intending to meet with a local poultry business owner “to learn how he set the business up, how he’s managing it and the expenses involved in starting up the business.” They hope this investment will boost the amount they will share out at the end of each year.
Rehema joined the Mnarani Savings Group, as she thought it would help her to manage her money properly: “I felt like I had to save so it would help me in the future.”
Having finished high school in 2016 followed by a college course studying Computer Packages, she is now enrolled in a Business Administration course at college. As one of MTG’s volunteers, she has been able to use her stipend pay for some of her school fees.
She says that the food allowance in particular has really helped her. “I save the items and divide them; some I send to my parents, I keep some for myself for my basic needs, and then I use the money that I would have spent on the food as a budget. I came to realise that saving has helped me – I’ve even opened my own account to save more money.”
Like many of the MTG girls, Rehema has a diverse range of skills and is always on the lookout for a way to turn them into new business opportunity. As well as being a dab hand at producing beautifully beaded Maasai sandals, she has big plans for a creative career.
“Right now, I’m studying business administration but what I really want to do is music production and sound engineering, so afterwards I’ll go for that – I just want to be the coolest Afropop DJ and producer! I’ll save until I can build my own big studio,” she laughs.
Amina is the Assistant Chairperson of the Mnarani Savings Group. She organises the members and meetings, keeping everyone updated on its progress.
“I decided to join the group because before I was a member, I was using my money uselessly. I wanted somewhere to keep my money safe and be open-minded to different ways of using it” she explains.
“I finished my secondary school education in 2016 and I haven’t been in education since, but I hope to join college to pursue a course in catering in Mombassa. At the moment I’m facing some challenges in my personal life which mean I can’t be in school.”
For her, the savings culture promoted through the group has been most useful – using it as a place to save her own money whilst supporting her sister through secondary school. Once her sister has completed her studies in 2020, Amina hopes to afford to go to college.
Amina credits MTG with sparking a real change in her outlook and self-confidence, “I have seen a change in me. I can do things on my own, I can decide things, I can take risks and now I’m confident enough to speak anywhere.”
She now has the self-belief that she will be able to achieve her ambitions: “I love cooking, especially my signature dish of pilau, egg soup and rice. My big vision for the future is to be a great chef!”
Our partner organisation, Moving the Goalposts, uses football as a tool to open up new opportunities for disadvantaged girls and young women in Kenya. Find out more about their work here.