On 29th September 2021, three representatives from the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) and the European Union paid a courtesy visit to one of the women groups in Jericho, Nairobi, running a small business start-up supported by GCERF, to observe the results sustained beyond the period of GCERF’s funding.
The team that included Mr. Jesper Steen Pedersen, GCERF Board Member, Deputy Head of Unit a.i, FPI.1 – Peace and Stability – Global Threats, Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), European Commission; and Mr. Louis Day, Regional Cooperation Officer for East and Southern Africa – FPI 1 (Peace, Stability & Global Threats) was led by Ms. Marine Shahbazyan, Country Manager and GCERF Secretary.
Through the main support project dubbed, “Building Family Resilience Against Violent Extremism: Women of Faith in Action,” nine small businesses were initiated in Nairobi and Mombasa in 2019, and have successfully been sustained despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges. The start-ups are managed through small groups of between 13 and 20 women belonging to different religious and ethnic backgrounds. The Jericho women group’s business is located along the busy Rabai road, to attract casual laborers and passersby.
The women were also empowered with knowledge and skills to prevent violent extremism (PVE), knowledge that they have since used to protect children and youth from the machinations of violent extremists.
Communities in informal settlements, such as in Jericho, Nairobi, were chosen as beneficiaries of this project since drivers of violent extremism such as social exclusion and marginalization, discrimination, and poverty are greatly magnified in informal settlements. The economic component was thus included in the project to support family resilience against violent extremism.
During the meeting, the women noted that despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the group had managed to work together to sustain its small business. Additionally, they shared that they engaged in PVE discussions with families and communities to strengthen community resilience against violent extremism.
The women presented some of the foods they sell, adding that they receive about fifty customers a day. They attributed the gradual success of the small enterprise to the commitment of the team and their ability to implement suggestions and advices from customers.
The discussions with the women group revolved around how they keep their records, and how they run the venture during the pandemic especially in maintaining hygiene in a food parlor. The women shared about the positive impact that the business had had on their family income, quality of life, respect from their spouses and children, and the voice they have acquired in family decision-making, as key breadwinners in their families.
The women expressed their deep appreciation for the grants received but also noted that a lot still needed to be done to empower communities living in informal settlements. They promised to take the first step of empowering other women by training them in establishing and managing small enterprises.