To Busia and Back

After only 2 days in Nakuru we got the bus on Friday evening to Busia to surprise my mum who is staying at the orphanage for 10 days that Kenya Works helps support. The bus was meant to arrive at 10pm but instead arrived at 11pm. Also 2 buses arrived instead of 1 so we weren’t sure which one to board. Eventually a man working there directed us where to go. When we boarded it seemed a little cramped and worn but didn’t think too much of it. But then as the other bus was pulling out ahead of us we noticed the nice curtains and the premier written on the side and realised that we were on the wrong bus and had been hustled. This was a big blow because the journey was 8 hours on perptetually awful roads/dirt tracks and we arrived in Busia at 7am having hardly slept. But… we gave my mum a great surprise so the trip was worth it.

We went to Busia thinking it would be a great weekend of fun where not too much Kenya Works stuff would get done.  We were completely wrong.

During our 2 days there we learnt a huge amount mainly because the family running the orphanage are so smart and knowledgeable. We talked through all of our worries and difficulties and came up with some great solutions.

Through these conversations something especially enlightening happened. Now, most Kenyans, when we ask them what they would do with some funding reply that they would open a shop. This seems to be the default answer and it’s not the most inspiring. So when we asked Bobby (the person running the orphanage) that same question we didn’t have high hopes. Thankfully, we were completely wrong and his answers blew us away. He thought for a few seconds and then reeled off 4 or 5 well thought out and exciting business ideas ranging from car dealerships to tourism to solar energy. We progressed into a fantastic 1 hour chat about his ideas during which time our project in Kenya slowly began to develop another interesting dimension. We realised through speaking to Bobby that there is another area of need in Kenya. There are people like Bobby who are clearly very impressive individuals with some experience of working and who have fantastic ideas and would make very successful entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, they have nowhere to take there ideas. Their plans are too ambitious for microfinance and they cannot receive loans from the bank because they have no collateral. Thus, they are stuck. We started thinking if we can find finance for this group of people it would be amazing because we would be unleashing the huge potential of individuals who would otherwise never be able to attempt their ideas.

We left Busia really buzzing deep in thought trying to work out how to give people like Bobby a chance…