Peter Otieno: Once Alone, Now Empowered!
Nairobi, Kenya – Left by his family at a young age, Peter Otieno knows the struggle of providing for himself in order to survive.
Peter was born and raised in Mathare Valley Slum in Kenya. In a family with five siblings, Peter felt pressure to help care for his family. Then one day, after his family had opened a small business stall, they left Peter and moved to another town with all his other siblings. Young and alone, Peter took over managing the stall and had to learn to be his own provider.
Seeing that Peter was passionate and deeply desired to make a better future for himself, Bright Hope’s partner in Mathare accepted him for a school scholarship that would allow him to get his diploma. Peter worked in his stall every day after school in order to pay his rent and buy enough food to survive.
As he pursued his education, a friend told him about the Savings for Life group in Mathare Valley. This is a group of people who collect their savings together and lend out the money as loans to group members so they can grow their businesses. When members pay back the loan with service fee, the profit benefits the whole group.
Peter was skeptical at the thought of joining this group because he didn’t have the steady income necessary to begin saving money. Despite his reluctance, he resolved to join the group in the beginning of 2015 with the goal of expanding his business.
After a month of saving his money in the Savings for Life program, Peter qualified for a loan that was three times his shares. With this loan, Peter increased his business inventory, and now he makes enough profit to save the maximum amount allowed in the savings group. Peter has even started a new side business doing nail art and pedicures!
With his financial success, Peter is looking for more and more ways to grow his business and is motivated to continue his studies. “The future is now clear thanks to Savings for Life! I have plans to employ someone to open up a salon within my business and help me run the business so I can concentrate on my studies.” Once Peter graduates, he is looking to expand and relocate his business to an area where business is booming.
Even as Peter grows as a business owner, he still remains rooted in his faith in God. “Savings for Life has also helped me understand more about what God says about savings and helping and trusting one another, something that is quite hard in the slums. It is something I will recommend to all my youth friends because I have already felt its impact and now I am empowered.”