Meet Our Members | Jane Nziva

“I am proud that I am able to support myself. I have sent my children through school on my own” - Jane, Zawadisha Loan Recipient [TWEET THIS]


Meet Jane, a Zawadisha loan recipient who has been able to make dramatic changes for herself and for her family since joining Zawadisha. Take a moment to read how her life has changed--the return on what seems like a small investment will amaze you.


Z: Please tell us a little about yourself and your family -- where did you grow up, do you have brothers/sisters, how many children do you have now, what tribe do you belong to...

J: I was born in Machakos to a family of nine, but there are currently only six of us left. I have six children. I studied up until Class 7, then left school to help my family. I got married in Machakos, then moved to Itinyi, Maungu.


Z: What is your most memorable experience as a child?

J: I loved going to church and general church activities although it was uncommon at that time due to the focus on other traditional religious activities. My parents disagreed with me going to church, but i still went anyway, and they eventually converted. The lessons I learned then have guided me through my my adult years.


Z: What has changed in your village or in Kenya since you were a young girl?

J: Life back then was hard because there were no groups which helped women and the community band together. The groups have helped me grow.


Z: Now that you are a grown woman, what is the one thing that you are most proud of?

J: I am proud that I am able to support myself. I have sent my children through school own my own. Through Zawadisha trainings, I am now able to stand in front of a crowd of people and teach them.


Z: What brings you joy?

J: The change in my husband in regards to his openness to groups. He has come to realize that in order for us to keep going forward, he would need to be open to me going to group meetings, and he even helps me at home when I need to have a meeting.


Z: What does the future look like for you, your family, and your community?

J: I see continued education, knowledge on proper loan procedures, and saving money. Zawadisha to continue the work they are doing.


Z: What do you want other people to know about you, your family, and/or your community?

J: To know how much my life has changed. I have been able to build, and I have sent my children to school.


Z: If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

J: I want to continue to increase awareness on how important it is for women to join groups worldwide for increased growth. And also for them not to ignore their children’s education as a means to eliminate poverty.

How We Work

Zawadisha is delivering clean energy and water to the doorsteps of rural Kenyan women through a simple pay-as-you-go plan. For the first time in their lives, they can afford solar lamps, clean cook stoves, and rain water tanks. Our in-house credit program eliminates the barriers associated with the high cost of these items, and we follow-up with training that helps them maximize the possibilities of their products.

Our community-based model engages trusted local leaders who spend their days traveling deep into rural areas to work with women’s savings groups. These women have strong relationships with one another; their high levels of social capital act as collateral to not only procure these products, but to make monthly payments, as well.

Our Community Coordinators provide an initial orientation that doubles as financial literacy training—women learn about the terms of loans and they learn how saving and budgeting can help them repay their loans.

We deliver the items they request directly to their doorsteps, train them on how to properly care for them, and provide all after-sales service. Our work is uniquely pro-woman, pro-poor, and pro-environment.

What's the impact of these loans? 

Solar Lamps: Women and their families will have clean energy in multiple rooms in their home, increasing productivity, reducing the costs of paraffin, and eliminating certain health issues. Communication will be increased as they are able to charge their mobile phones at home, another cost saver. Check out our infographic on the impact of solar lamps here. 

Rain Water Tanks: Families will have clean water, increasing levels of hygiene, allowing them to grow their own food, and reducing expenditures previously spent on jerry cans of water. Furthermore, they will gain nearly six hours per day as they no longer need to make the long walk into town to purchase water. Check out our infographic on the impact of rain water tanks here. 

Clean Cook Stoves: Fuel efficient stoves mean that women use less to cook their food and boil water. This saves the family money and reduces the impact on the environment (charcoal production contributes to deforestation). These stoves also produce less smoke than traditional jikos reducing respiratory illnesses in the home. 

How do the women pay back this loan?

We wondered this as well when we first piloted this project. After six months with 100% repayment rate, we went into the field and asked how they were able to do this. We learned that unlike microloans for businesses, these loans were transparent and tangible to family members. Everyone in the home could use the lamp or the tank, and they felt the immediate benefit. (Although we believe that women working and earning income is also beneficial, family members didn't always see it that way.) Because the woman of the house was responsible for bringing this item into the home, her status was elevated and she was more appreciated. We even have had members tell us that these types of loans have brought unity in the home and greater love between husbands and wives. The result is that no one will let her fail. The entire family chips in to repay the loan, and the women had a few tricks up their sleeves to earn a little bit on the side by charging neighbors a small fee to charge their phones and selling water when their tanks were full. 

Read the full story about how we launched this program from Wildlife Works here.