Meet Mama Catherine

Mama Catherine, a wife, mother and grandmother lives in the Oloowang community, where TKP’s second preschool is located. As a young woman, Mama Catherine, a creative at heart, learned to weave beautiful baskets from yarn and sisal. As the demands of married life and parenthood took over, she gradually let her craft slip away. 

When TKP began to partner with the community in 2000, education and health care resources were at the forefront of the community’s needs. But something else was happening, the time was ripe for a women’s co-op group and a leader was easily found in Mama Catherine. 

In 2010, Upendo Women’s Group (Upendo is Swahili for love) was formed and 25 women began working together on beading, weaving and jewelry projects. They also met weekly to exchange ideas, discuss sales opportunities, and pool funds for supplies. The women shared their struggles and burdens and chipped in financially to help each other through tough times. As TKP was adding schools and enrolling more students across Kilgoris, these mothers were forming a community of their own. 

Partnerships Drive Business Success

In more recent years, TKP has arranged financial literacy training from the Equity Group Foundation for both Upendo and a second women’s group in the Oltikampu community. Catherine began to save her money with the sale of her very first basket. Eventually, she was able to combine her basket making earnings with a small business loan from TKP partner organization, Zawadisha. Combined with business training from U.S. volunteers and Zawadisha, Mama Catherine began planting maize and beans to sell in the local market. With her earnings, she was able to save enough to build a new home to accommodate her growing family. 

“Working with TKP has been amazing—the TKP leaders in Kenya coordinate all the deliveries of our loan products in Kilgoris and also help with trainings,” said Cindy Mayanka, Zawadisha opportunity and empowerment director. “Together we are reaching and empowering more women in Kilgoris.” 

Today, Mama Catherine continues to grow and sell maize and beans, and has even expanded her business to chickens—a significant feat for a woman in Kilgoris. She has also reinvested her earnings into building a small kiosk on the edge of her property where many neighbors pass by each day to purchase sugar, maize, flour, milk and eggs. Mama Catherine is operating a sustainable business that is profitable and allowing her family to change their circumstances over time. 

One of the greatest benefits that Mama Catherine has seen from all that TKP has brought into her life is an improvement in her family’s health. She is proud to share that she is able to purchase more than enough food for her entire family! And what’s more is that she is able to contribute financially to her grandchildren’s education. 

Mama Catherine is just one fascinating woman in this community. Life-changing stories like this exist in every corner and classroom in Kilgoris. 

TKP’s tagline is “Education. Health. Opportunity.” This is opportunity. A family on a new path thanks to their grandmother and mother turned entrepreneur. A new generation of children attending school because of new income. And countless futures transformed by investment in a community.