On a busy street corner in the center of Kitale, Kenya, I met Christine Lukanda, wife, mother of two teens, and owner of a colorful fruit stand. Her tables hold small mountains of mangoes, bananas, oranges, lemons and other locally grown fruits and veggies.
Christine travels into town each morning when it is still dark to buy fresh fruit as it arrives on trucks from surrounding farms in Kenya and neighboring Uganda. She and her one employee spend the next hour setting up tables and artfully displaying her fruits. About sunrise, people start pouring into the city center, and business begins.
As I watched Christine at work, it was clear that she is an accomplished multi-tasker, simultaneously dealing with several customers, giving directions to her employee, negotiating with a supplier—and talking with me. Her day continues until the sun goes down at about six in the evening. In spite of being extremely busy, Christine is enjoying her life, and she exudes a quiet optimism. Things are going well for her and her family.
Five years ago, however, Christine’s life was much different. Her husband, a farm worker, was injured in an accident at work, and the family suddenly had no source of income. The two children had to drop out of school, as Christine and her husband could no longer afford their school fees. Christine found some work as a farm laborer, but earned only $1 a day. And work was sporadic. Although Christine’s husband recovered from his accident in a year’s time, he was unable to do any hard work or heavy lifting.
Many days there was no money and no food, so the family had to rely on the members of their house church, most of whom were struggling themselves.
In 2010, Christine learned that her pastor had become a Heaven’s Family micro-banker. After working with her to develop a business plan, he gave Christine a $65 micro-loan and helped her open her fruit stand.
Christine’s business proved to be a success. Her strategic location and good business skills were a winning combination, and her family’s desperate situation began to improve dramatically. Christine’s husband was able to help, and her business was so prosperous that she was able to hire an employee.
Christine has since paid off her loan, and her business fully supports her family. Her two children are back in school. There is food on the family table. Because of gifts to the Micro-Loan Fund, Christine has new hope—and a fruitful business that has moved one more family from dependency to self-sufficiency.