In the sleepy market town of Gai, Agnes’ small shop and hotel bring the community together. Weary travelers and villagers alike have a place to sip tea, buy goods, and chit-chat with the locals who gather there.


A smile says it all


There was a time when Agnes did not smile. She said she had nothing to smile about. This has all changed since she joined the Programme for Rural Outreach of Financial Innovations and Technologies (PROFIT) Financial Graduation programme, funded by IFAD and the Government of Kenya. Now a proud business owner in the center of town, Agnes continues to improve the hotel she runs and makes additions to her home to transform it into something she is fiercely proud of.

“Previously my confidence was very low and I was embarrassed of my home.”


A family affair


No longer having to rely on casual labor jobs to support their seven children, Agnes, her husband, and some of her older children use their spare time to run the businesses as a family. When Agnes is tending to the shop, her husband is either off caring for their goats, or lending a hand to help wash dishes in the back of the hotel. Her daughter even does the bookkeeping when she is finished with school.

“Since the start of my involvement in this programme, there is more love between my husband and me.

They continue to discuss and make joint decisions for the household and business ventures.


Someone to look up to


Agnes is very proud of her successful businesses and strengthened household. Not only is her shop located at the center of the market, but people now visit her for things beyond the goods she sells: they come to her because they look up to her.

“Neighbors come to visit me, borrow things or money when they need it.”

Agnes advises peers in the program to work hard and encourages them to hit their profit targets to qualify for second asset transfers. This social empowerment aspect of a participant’s growth is an important piece of the program It is a key indicator in their future success within a community.


By requiring participants to acquire at least two different streams of income, the Graduation programme promotes resilience against future shocks, particularly in drought-prone areas like the arid and semi-arid lands in Eastern Kenya.

“If there is an emergency or drought, I know that my savings with the Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLA) will be able to cover any loss.”


The Graduation programme, implemented by CARE International in Kitui, with technical assistance from BRAC, provides multiple enterprise options to participants to choose from based on their preference and abilities. Participants receive training from mentors and sometimes other experts to manage their chosen assets and create sustainable businesses that will last far beyond the end of the program.


Agnes wants to continue to add stock to her business so it can grow. She wants to invest in the hotel and make it look more attractive so she can bring in more customers. Her hope is to continue her cereal business and sell in all markets in the surrounding area.

When asked how her daughter feels about Agnes’ transformation she says she’s proud of what her mother has been able to accomplish.