At just 26 years old, Lilian Akinyi Odongo is already the proud owner of a fishing boat in Kendu Bay by Lake Victoria. This is no small feat for a woman in a male-dominated trade! Thanks to MPA’s partner in Kenya, Lilian has been able to borrow and repay many times and is proud to show how her business has grown.
Lilian conducts her fishing business with ease and a smile. Don’t let her smile fool you—as she is tough as they come in business! Lilian always wanted to own a boat, but it wasn’t easy getting the startup capital. She tried and worked hard at various businesses saving every coin she made.
After completing school, Lilian opted to begin a small income project. She started selling water to the fishermen along the beach. The little profit she saved from selling water was reinvested in ropes to sell to fishermen for use in their boats.
This single mother of two boys was soon introduced to Jamii Bora/Yawezekana SACCO, MPA’s partner. She started by saving 200 shillings ($2 USD) weekly, saving enough to take her first loan of 10,000 shillings ($98 USD). She repaid that loan and took another of 20,000 shillings ($197 USD). Lilian is very committed when it comes to her savings and repayments.
Lilian has repaid her loans promptly and put increasingly larger amounts in savings. Most recently she was able to borrow 60,000 shillings ($592 USD), which she used to accomplish her dream of buying a boat. “I was so excited when I got my boat, I never slept that night,” Lilian exclaims. Only three women own a boat on this beach—the rest are owned by men.
Lilian has created employment for another five people. In addition to owning and operating a fishing boat, she now owns a kiosk where she sells soft drinks. She still sells ropes and drinking water.
Her vision is to access more credit to open a soft drink depot. Lilian’s main challenge has always been getting enough credit to improve her business. She will continue growing with MPA’s help through Jamii Bora/Yawezekana SACCO by saving more money so that she can borrow more. Lilian urges women to save more and grow their businesses. Says Lilian, “When women save, they are able to help bring up better families.”
For Lilian, not even the sky is the limit!