Disability Is Not Inability: The “Blind Weaving Bird”
Felister Wanjiru Ng’ang’a, 31, is a member of the Pamoja visually impaired SHG in Gatundu, Kiambu County. She and her visually impaired friends formed the group in 2013 with a common objective of assisting one another through merry-go-round lending and starting various projects. The group has a membership of 15 and all the members were visually impaired when the group begun and as the time went by, most of them ended up becoming completely blind including Felister. Despite being blind, the members run a tree nursery and make detergents which they sell to schools and the community.
Felister is the group’s secretary and has played a key role in influencing the members in doing great group projects. However, she did not know how to transform her skills into an enterprise until she was trained by HiH EA on enterprise management skills. She bought a knitting machine and started weaving table clothes and sweaters. Her enhanced knitting business is very unique in the area since most of the tailors are only involved in knitting sweaters hence giving her a competitive advantage in selling her products.
Felister saves her income through the piggybank, group table banking and merry-go-round and has been able to raise capital for expanding her business by buying stock. Further, she has implemented good record keeping practices and this has assisted her in determining whether she is incurring profits or losses in her business. She is able to accomplish this through the assistance of a temporary employee. Her impeccable customer care skills have enabled her to attract and retain customers.
Before HiHEA training, she was earning an average income of Ksh 5,000 per month, but now earns an average income of Ksh 8,500 per month. A set of seat covers takes her one week to complete and she sells it for Ksh 3,500 while the materials for one set costs Ksh 2,200.
She has been able to gain dignity and self-confidence and now she is self-reliant and can contribute merry-go-round and table banking without difficulties. Her future plans are to open a tailoring shop in the nearby market since currently she does her weaving and knitting at home and this will enable her to get access to wider market, increase sales and get more income.