“If you are going to get anything done in Africa, in Kenya and by extension in my region Kisii, then you have got to be made of steel. Nobody has ever done it best. In fact, people don’t know how to do it.”
Mayaka, a son of peasant farmer mother and a struggling father in menial jobs and having been brought up in a remote area in western part of Kenya, Mayaka seems to have been overwhelmed by the life he grew in.
Back in June 2013, the idea of bringing community members together in a social enterprise became overwhelming. Armed with an objective of Exploring Opportunities for members of the community; he embarked on a journey of creating employment opportunities for his people. This was to enable them to lead a sustainable and productive life. Esango Youth Group was registered. It meant that he, at 24 and a fresh University graduate had to walk the dream. The dream had to come to fruition.
He had done a lot of organization and bringing people together in his community, but now asking them to buy into his idea seemed an uphill task. He was worried.
Despite having business qualifications, of which he studied Commerce in University, the challenging environment behind his growing up meant he had to work twice hard than any other normal teenager.
It’s at the University of Nairobi where Mayaka is meeting students from different backgrounds. He describes the experience as the “most fulfilling and eye opener of his past interactions”. Mayaka acknowledges that the experience laid the foundation for his future ideas for Esango Cash. Back home, he managed to convince 10 community members to offer sanitation services voluntarily. A clean environment was the motivation. In his big picture, a clean market meant high productivity and overall minimal expenditure on the market populace blighted by ill-health. His team managed to achieve this despite minimal financial support.
“My financial facilitation came from Kisii County Government where I managed to secure a quarterly contract to offer cleaning services at the same market. My ambitious plan became even more urgent. During my interactions with people, I realized the financial illiteracy amongst my people. This is how I started training people on financial management, says Mayaka.”
Esango Cash, a flexible and convenient saving and loaning platform was therefore born. The product is offered online through the website, www.esango.co.ke with plans to have it as a mobile application and USSD service. Instead of being merely a normal youth group, Esango Cash meant that the group will now make money. Sustainable life for people is now a reality.
“Most of our clients are our staff and the community at large of which we encourage the members of the community to make their savings and take loans too. Since our interest rates are low, the small profits we make are used to support students from poor families to school fees or buy books. We also use the profits for office facilitation and educating the community on financial literacy, Says Mayaka.”
After an expectedly slow start, with minimal savings and low uptake of loans, Esango Cash now boasts a promising loan portfolio and a health return on savings. It has employed 15 community members and plans to reach more people in other regions.
“But it has never been a bed of roses, we have faced challenges. Convincing community members that they can make something out of the perceived little they have through consistent saving wasn’t easy. With also the increase of requests from other community members, we are faced with a challenge of inadequate capital. We also need to reach more through training. The community has great potential. People can only realize the ‘power in their pocket’, which is Esango Cash’s tagline, by diligently helping them change their mindset, says Mayaka.”
Esango Cash continuously pursues industry best practices. It plans to handle bills payment, money transfer and lock payments. It lives by its founding philosophy of creating employment through exploring opportunities available.
“Instead of giving my people fish, my plan is to teach them how to fish. To help them inculcate a culture of saving and informed borrowing, concludes Mayaka.”
More at: http://www.esango.co.ke/