A (re)Introduction to Zawadisha
Some of you have been with us for more than a decade, following along the twists and turns of our evolution. Some of you are new, just learning about our work. Whether this is the first or the I-don't-know-who's-counting blog you've received, I wanted to take a moment and share a bit about Zawadisha.
Zawadisha started as an informal micro-lending program nearly 20 years ago. I was in Kenya in 2004 conducting research for my master's degree, traveling between towns in questionable minibusses, relying on internet cafes to communicate, and come to find out, embarking on my life's work.
What I learned through my research was that the women I worked with had great ambition but lacked the basic tools to help them achieve their goals.
So I cashed in the savings bonds I was gifted from my grandparents (dating myself here) and used those funds to issue the first loans to women.
Over the years the demand for Zawadisha's services grew, finance laws changed in Kenya, needs shifted, and we learned a lot. So nearly ten years ago we made a big shift: We stopped providing cash loans for businesses for so many reasons (to be shared in a future newsletter) and started providing household goods on credit.
We're like the Rent-A-Center of rural Kenya. The products we provide light homes, deliver water, provide rest, and create income. Our all-Kenyan, all-women team has served thousands of women through our Lending and Peer Education programs. They deliver these life-changing goods and ensure that women can access financial literacy and agricultural skills training.
It feels like nothing short of a miracle that we've been able to do this work for so long. And you're a big part of that. Thank you for your generous contributions to Zawadisha. You help improve the lives of women and you are contributing to making this world more equitable and just for them.
I invite you to see your impact first-hand by joining us on a guided tour in Kenya in 2024. It all clicks When you stand in our community, meet the Zawadisha team, visit homesteads, and see those water tanks pepper the landscape.
Jen Gurecki, she/her, Founder of Zawadisha