Why We Develop
People need Jesus and people need jobs. With those two things, people’s lives can be radically transformed for the better. Ndoto means “Dream” in Kiswahili, and one of the strongest dreams that people have is for a paycheck.
How We Develop
Helping create jobs is a complicated task that requires development at all scales, from creating an educated workforce, to growing capital for startups, to governmental facilitation and incentives. We are just a small organization, but we have seen that we can make a difference.
In the slum where we work, most people earn income by doing odd jobs and reselling or making simple products. Others are day laborers. The area is ripe for development, however. Ndoto is committed to two routes to economic development: giving small business loans and starting businesses.
Loans are an avenue that we occasionally follow. When a local business or an entrepreneur, connected to Ndoto, has a strong, written business plan, and demonstrates the faithfulness to carry it out, Ndoto can consider a small loan. Our preferred route, however, is to start new businesses ourselves. Some of those businesses will be owned by Ndoto, providing revenue for the ministry. Others will be released to local ownership to build local wealth. These businesses have the double benefit of creating jobs and creating a service for the community!
With steady, dependable income, a family can keep their basic needs stable and even save for the future.
Then they will rebuild ancient ruins, raise up the former devastations; and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.
In Kenya, the unemployment rate is 40%. In Kisumu county where we work, it is over 50%, and it must be even higher in the Obunga slum where we are based. In Kenya, however, the government safety net is almost nonexistent. If people cannot earn money, and cannot borrow any more from family, they will starve. So the majority of working-age adults that we are in contact with work in the informal sector. They work odd jobs, hire themselves as day laborers, operate tiny grocery stands, or sell small products. Some even work illegal jobs, such as brewing illicit alcohol.
Jobs in Kenya are so scarce that even some of Ndoto’s college graduates struggle to find a steady paycheck. Without economic development, even the best students can still be resigned to a life of poverty. We are uniquely positioned to be an economic incubator in Obunga. There are many opportunities in Kisumu, and if we are successful at multiplying locally-owned businesses and stable jobs, we’d be delighted if Obunga didn’t need Ndoto anymore!
For its first decade, Ndoto focused on providing loans to qualified entrepreneurs. While banks provide large loans with high interest to well-capitalized businesses, and microfinance institutions gather groups of informal businesspeople together to expand their work, there is a gap for mid-sized loans to entrepreneurs who want to start small, more formal businesses. We provided an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to submit formal business plans for low-interest mid-sized loans. Through 2020, $27,340 was given out in various loans, and 96.3% was repaid or being repaid.
In 2018, we began to grow our strategy to include starting businesses ourselves. Ndoto has the facilities and resources to serve as a business incubator, allowing small businesses to launch in a protected space and grow to self-sufficiency before being released. The business opportunities in a place like Obunga are endless, from a tailoring and uniform supply company to a farm to a food truck. Locally-owned businesses create jobs, build local wealth, and meet community needs.
Ndoto is also launching businesses that will be owned by Ndoto. A chicken and egg business, a small gym, and a private school are examples of ways that we can create jobs and development while also generating revenue for our ministry. With more than a decade of Ndoto students, there are now Ndoto graduates in many fields, some of whom are ready to go to work for the organization that helped educate them!
Thanks to a donor who gave a small business loan through Ndoto, Lillian, our girls dorm mom, was able to buy a sewing machine, fabric, and other necessary materials to start her own tailoring business. Lillian is specializing in school uniforms and is remarkably talented! Just a couple of months in to her loan, Lillian payed one lump sum that covered several months because her business was doing so well! She is making great progress and is not only able to provide for her two children, but she also can help her mom and other relatives!