BFP: What do you do?
PN: I set up Hand in Hand Eastern Africa in 2010. Our aim is to reduce poverty through sustainable job creation. Our first job and business creation program in Kenya was developed in partnership with Sida and FMO, who together invested a total $1.1m. Today we have generated over 30,000 small businesses and more than 40,000 jobs amongst some of the poorest in Kenyan society.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
PN: Seeing how a job and an increased income can change lives from dependence to independence. What makes and keeps people poor is lack of an income. At Hand in Hand we give them the tools they need to start their own small business and generate their own income. Every day I see the benefits to families – more food on the table, children are sent to school not work and when needed, families have access to better healthcare and housing.
The impact on Hand in Hand staff is also deeply rewarding, seeing them appreciate the role they play in changing people’s lives.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
PN: Bringing about changes in attitude from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ and ‘I will’ is definitely one of our biggest challenges. For example, saving is at the heart of our job creation model but, Kenya has a low “home saving culture”. So, we devised and launched the Home Saving Campaigns to help raise awareness of the importance of saving and enable people to realize that they can save, just a little, every week and this can be the first step out of poverty.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? / What advice, would you give to others? / What is the secret of your success?
PN: The key to overcoming any challenge is persistence and commitment. I always say to myself that if you start small and grow slowly you will be surprised at the big changes you can achieve. I would say to anyone just starting out ‘believe, begin, become’ and enjoy what you do.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
PN: I would say the most important first step is to get some experience in the field. Find out and understand the challenges that your clients face every day and that will make you their most effective voice. It might be a long journey and it might not come easily but be persistent and I am sure you will succeed.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
PN: I want to find out about and learn from other organisations and form new partnerships to further the cause of job creation. I also hope that others can learn from my experiences.
Thank you to Pauline Ngari for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.