25 September 2009
|Urban refugees in Nairobi can become self-sufficient with hard work and small loans by JRS and other organizations. (Peter Balleis SJ/JRS)|
|I was able to fully repay my first loan within the stipulated period of one year.|
After the background checks and business plans have been approved, the final allocation of the loans, provided twice a year by JRS Kenya, is contingent upon their participation in a one-day workshop.
During the course of the workshop, the participants were provided with practical information on loan and business management and on the general business climate in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Those who have been living in the city for some time and are already running a business shared their experiences with other less experienced refugees.
During the discussions it became clear that participants had a good idea of what is expected of them as businessmen and women. They emphasised the importance of good customer care, honesty, good quality of their products and book keeping. It was obvious most were familiar with the business climate in the country, and have learned to adjust.
Responsibility and appreciation
The beneficiaries were well aware that they will receive a loan, not a grant and that they have to ensure that it is not used for other purposes. They encouraged each other to repay the loans within one year to ensure money is available for subsequent recipients. “I was able to fully repay my first loan within the stipulated period of one year,” a woman who will receive her second loan told her fellow participants, demonstrating that it is possible to benefit from the loan and repay it within the given time frame.
The participants – originally from Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Eritrea and Cameroon – received between 100 and 150 euro and open small artisan, clothing or food businesses.
Prior to the workshop JRS arranged individual meetings with each participant to provide basic detailed information on loan applications, conditions and repayments, and basic business management.