It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what you are celebrating this holiday season, striving to make a positive impact in the lives of low-income people is something that everyone can take part in.
The season of joy and Mercy's story
Because at Oikocredit, we believe that everyone should be provided with the opportunity to experience comfort and joy, this season and beyond. It aligns with our vision of a global, just society in which resources are shared sustainably and all people are empowered with the choices they need to create a life of dignity.
To help us get in the holiday spirit and reflect on this vision, we’re looking back at stories that inspire us as a cooperative. One story in specific has reminded us of what this season is about: goodwill and mercy to all.
So we thought it was fitting to introduce you to Mercy herself. Mercy is a client of Oikocredit partner Unaitas Sacco Society Ltd (Unaitas), and she is someone that embodies the true spirit of Christmas.
In 1971 Mercy Mbatia’s husband passed away, leaving her a widow and single parent of four children. Despite everything she has had to overcome, Mercy (now 76) is known for her friendliness and perseverance. She is a driven entrepreneur and an important role model to her community.
When she wasn’t busy raising her four children, Mercy spent her time supporting others. In 1975 she started a YMCA group to mentor women in the community and help them market the local mangos they were producing.
Mercy also owns a 4 acre tea plantation. She sells the tea leaves to a large Kenyan tea producer, however, the income from the tea almost entirely goes to the tea pluckers. Her income relied on the yearly bonus, but unfortunately this income alone was not always enough for her to make ends meet.
As her children grew up and left the house, Mercy needed to diversify and improve her income. So in 2015 she decided to start a chicken farm, but she didn’t have enough money to get started.
Fortunately, Mercy had been a member of Unaitas for 20 years, and like previous years when she needed financial help, the cooperative was there to support her.
Unaitas is a cooperative that offers savings and credit services for its members. The cooperative is passionate about transforming lives through the provision of innovative financial solutions. The majority of Unaitas’ clients are tea farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs and traders, most of which are women.
Unaitas’ focus on empowering women makes investing in people like Mercy vital. Because investing in community leaders like her means investing in the entire community.
So to help Mercy kick-off her chicken farm, Unaitas offered her a loan of KES 200,000 (around € 1,500). With the loan she was able to build a chicken coop around the corner from her home and purchase 750 chicks.
Mercy’s pursuit of an improved livelihood paid off, and she now has 1,500 chickens. This step has helped her in various ways: the income from the eggs is spent on food and electricity. And the manure from the chicken helps her to improve the harvest of the tea.
She was also able to employ two workers at the chicken farm and three workers at the tea plantation. This was crucial for Mercy as with age, her body was becoming increasingly weary.
With the help of Oikocredit partner Unaitas, Mercy now has a more reliable income and can focus her efforts on doing what she loves: empowering the women around her.
Mercy is only one of the many low-income people that have been supported by Oikocredit’s partners. These stories encourage Oikocredit to continue its work of investing in organisations like Unaitas, so that more people like her can be reached.
Because as Mercy shows us in her life story, supporting and empowering others – especially those who are struggling the most – are some of the most valuable gifts we can give.