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The Women of Project Biashara: Mary Wayua

The harsh conditions in the Kibera slum make everyday life extremely challenging. Starting and maintaining a business is even more difficult. Fortunately, with your help, Project Biashara provides the women of Kibera an opportunity to expand their business skills and provide for their families. These talented and bright women are learning more and contributing to the community in ways that used to be mere dreams.

Mary Wayua (46) is one of the many women who owns a business through the support of Project Biashara. She is a mother a four (Isaac, Judy, Elizabeth, Sarah) and a grandmother of three (Anton, Peace, Joshua) and is a familiar face to all teams that visit New Hope Primary School. In spite of having limited education and persistent health issues, she picked up English very quickly and embraces every opportunity to continue learning. In fact, she actually served as a translator when I was interviewing some of the women involved with the project.

For her Biashara (business) she makes beaded jewelry, and sells bags, groceries, and vegetables. Even though her business operates within the slum, she dreams of expansion. Mary hopes to expand her project abroad, allowing her to reach new customers and expand her business internationally.

Project Biashara provided the funds to cover some of the upfront costs in starting Mary’s business, and also continues to assist her in the purchase of food and needed medication. The assistance allows her to maintain her strength to run her business and provide for her family despite constant illness.

As she’s received assistance with her business and health, she also gives back. Mary believes that Project Biashara is God’s gift, and therefore willingly shares what she’s received with others. She tithes and gives offerings to her local church and also gives to those that have less and are in need. Even in her difficult circumstances, she maintains that her identity is firmly rooted in Christ, and nothing else. Every team that has the opportunity to meet and interact with Mary does not meet a “charity case,” but meets a woman whose faith is both admirable and beautiful.

Please pray for Mary, as life remains challenging. She hopes to move out of her current neighborhood where religious tensions and conflicts are high. Mary also fights difficult medical conditions that make working and raising a family even more difficult. In this period of tumultuous economic crisis around the world, business struggles. Pray that Mary will see her dream through and spread her business to the international level.

Project Biashara is a blessing to the women of Kibera like Mary, and even more of a blessing to the body of Christ. Through Project Biashara, we help remove the barriers that prevent people from pursuing their dreams. These women are not only getting more opportunity, but are also pouring out in their communities and spreading God’s love to all their neighbors.

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Meet the Women of Project Biashara: Mary Muthoni

Project Biashara (“business” in Swahili) is one of the primary ministries of New Hope Initiative in the slum of Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya. The project grants micro-loans to women to provide capital in starting small businesses. These businesses range from selling produce, to making jewelry, to even starting hair salons. There are about 50 women involved with Project Biashara and they are now able to better support their families and raise their children. Mary Muthoni is one of the many women involved with Project Biashara. She is 65 and has eight children (Thiongo, Wambua, Mburu, Wajiuru, Njoronge, Njau, Nyokabi, Ngathoni, and Wairinu (passed away)) and four grandchildren (Joyce, Dennis, Pauline, and Brian). She sells sweet potatoes and casaba for her business.

Through Project Biashara, Mary uses her profits to cover rent, purchase clothes and food, help pay for her children’s school fees, and cover the costs for her diabetes medication.* Her business also allows her to spread God’s love throughout the community. As a Christian businesswoman, she is a positive role model for the community and is now able to tithe and give offerings to her church. Project Biashara is truly a blessing in Mary’s life, but it does not mean that life is without its difficulties.

When the economic crisis hit in the United States just a couple of years ago, the entire world felt the impact. The devaluation of the Kenyan currency through massive inflation has led to a much higher cost of living throughout the country. This change is magnified in regions like Kibera, making it difficult for Mary to sell her produce. As a result, it is more challenging for her to purchase the essentials that she needs.

Regardless of the current challenges in her life, Mary is very grateful for Project Biashara and everything God has done in her life since she first came to Christ 10 years ago. She asks that you keep her and her family in your prayers. Please pray that her diabetes stabilizes and for overall better health. Also, pray for her children and grandchildren, that they would receive clothes and the school fees needed to further their education and pave their way out of poverty. Lastly, pray that God opens doors for her business and her witness. God is more powerful than a difficult economic time and Mary knows that He will continue to work wonders in her life.

* At the time of the interview with Mary, she and many other women had to pay for their medications. Since most of the medications were imported from other nations, the cost was quite expensive. Mary often had to choose between purchasing her medication or food. If she took her medication without food and on an empty stomach, she would get sick. However, if she didn’t take her medicine, her diabetic symptoms worsen. Now, as a result of your support, New Hope Initiative is able to provide the medication for women like Mary. She will not have to make a decision between medicine or food in the future.

By Michael Holmes

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