The Orphan Micro-Enterprise Project (OMEP) is a Sheria Based Micro-Credit Project (interest free Loan).This project has been implemented by the IRK Child Welfare Department in Mandera County. Its beneficiaries are orphan from the 1-2-1 Program in the Child Welfare Department. The project was planned in such a way that when the child exits the 1-2-1 program the families have established viable enterprise to sustain the family basic needs (food, education and medication of their children).Otherwise known as an exit strategy.
The programmes objective is to empower orphans families who are economically vulnerable to enable them lead a self reliant urban life while contributing to sustained economic growth and increase income generation activities among vulnerable orphan households through provision of interest free loans and improving availability of the basic needs in North-Eastern Kenya
The project is funded by IRK Switzerland. The success of the project is mainly attributed to the identification, design and implementation strategy.IRK is the only international Organization that implements Sheria Based Micro-Credit(SBMC) in the area, North astern Kenya is a marginalized area and there are very few financial institution of which most them are not sheria complaints , in addition to that majority of the population are poor and illiterate (can’t read and write), thus they cannot secure collateral to get credit for investment, the introduction of Sheria Based Micro-Credit program was a relieve to many families in the area. The OMEP projects complemented well with other IRK ongoing programmes i.e. Water and Sanitation (WASH), Health & Nutrition, Child welfare, Food Security & Livelihood.
OMEP project beneficiaries are engaged mainly in five different income generating activities. These are live animal trade, animal products and by-products (Hides and skins, butchery, Milk), Retail shops, cross border trade and the provision of equipment and training to artisan with life skills (tailoring, carpentry, masonry, hand crafts and leather work).
The OMEP project beneficiaries had been selected through a mutually agreed, well designed, and inclusive and gender sensitive and participatory criteria. These beneficiaries were grouped into ten (12 groups) each location was formed into one big group each for easy management and sharing of resources. Prior to disbursement of funds IR undertook various activities that included individual and group profiling, appraisals, market identification and survey, profiling of business service providers and group registration. Other activities before disbursement included constitution, by law, agreements and development of Memorandum of understanding (MOU) between clients, IR, line ministries and financial institutions
The micro-credit clients were trained on various business and enterprise management and development skills as well as leadership and credit management. This ensured the businesses break even (rate of return) and generated income that provided sustainable livelihoods within and beyond the project period.
In a nutshell this micro-credit project assisted a total 328 (208 OMEP 1 and 120 OMEP II) clients with interest free loan ranging from kshs. 35,000-45,000 each in of all 12 locations so as to enable them start or expand their income generating activities. The number is expected to increase after and beyond the project life since the money reimbursed will be ploughed back to new clients. The sheria based micro-credit adopted and formalized the informal micro-credit system in the area, which is the informal revolving fund “Ayuta” (Merry-go-round)
A total of 4.3 million Kenya shillings have been disbursed to 120 OMEP clients who are engaged in five different IGA activities. in total combination for OMEP 1 and II eight and half million(8.5 million Kenya shillings) has so far been disbursed to 328 clients, the number of clients is expected to grow as reimbursed funds for both OMEP 1 and II will ploughed back to new clients in the waiting list.
The project was successfully implemented despite a few challenges such as inter-clan conflict, influx of refugee from neighboring Somalia, most of the project beneficiaries are illiterate and hence can’t read nor write, thus issue of book keeping especially group record keeping was challenging, but through training and capacity building the project is know well established. The project achieved significantly outcomes. Currently the beneficiaries’ can afford to feed their families through the established Income Generating Activities (IGA) from OMEP funds that were disbursed to orphan families. Currently the beneficiaries do not over rely on food aid instead the food aid acts as a supplement. The level of income for micro-credit beneficiaries has improved as indicated by the increased purchasing power, expanded business, access to basic needs such cloth, shelter and food. The health status has also been on a positive trend consequently increased school enrolment and reduction in child mortality among the targeted households.