SALVATION ARMY WORLD SERVICE OFFICE (SAWSO): Giving Women Financial Independence

Hope is a powerful virtue. Chemka, a Kenyan woman from the village of Sabatia Gurugwa, is the definition of hope. Her story emerges from a women’s empowerment project supported by The Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO), a Global Impact charity partner. This program aims to teach literacy and record-keeping skills to underprivileged women. After joining the program, Chemka decided to make use of these newly acquired skills by forming a savings and lending group to give the women in the project the opportunity to start small, income-generating businesses.

Chemka, a 46-year-old single mother used to struggle to keep her family afloat, but that all changed after she joined the empowerment group and started the lending service. Chemka was able to secure a small loan to start a business selling fruit, onions and tomatoes. She proudly reports that her enterprise is doing well, and from it, she is able to save money and provide food for her child. She hopes to one day expand her business, and open a shop.

What jumps out most of Chemka’s account is her new view of herself. She explains, “surely now, I can be called a woman of substance.”

Chemka’s story is not unusual. SAWSO’s programs have given hope to many who rejoice in their newfound ability to provide healthier meals to their children, to finally send children to school, and to share in the financial responsibility for their families. These fundamental abilities are often taken for granted, but not for Chemka and women like her.