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Tales From the Field: Becoming friends with numbers

Hi this is Yumi, the community organizing intern. I would like to start talking about what I do everyday at Kibera.

One focus of KDI’s work in Kibera (or anywhere) is to make projects sustainable. At each site in Kibera, KDI has worked with community members, incorporating their ideas and needs. These community members eventually formed groups to manage the site, and started operating micro-businesses to financially support the project and each member’s living.

Now, there are four businesses operating at site 1, and two businesses operating at site 2. Because site 1 started earlier than site 2, naturally, the levels of development of micro-enterprises at site 1 and site 2 are different. Groups at site 1 are struggling on how to expand their businesses, and groups at site 2 are planning on how to start their business. However, whichever level you are in, you have to become friends with numbers. Meaning, knowing how much you are spending, how much money you are making, and how much money you have now.

KDI has been teaching book keeping and encouraging community groups’ representatives to get training in accounting. However, once we arrived this summer, at site 1, we noticed that records have not been kept up to date, or not kept in an organized way. The reasons were either they did not have time to write, or do not know or forgot how to record. So together with the Kenyan interns, I started teaching how to keep accounting records to groups at site 1.

This time, to make them able to continue, we first used a simple format. Second, we used the same format to all groups at site 1 so that they can teach each others in case anybody forgot. And finally, I also asked the local intern to understand the format so that he/she can follow-up with them. However, besides the format, I also noticed the importance of telling them how book keeping affects their business. I think making them understand why they have to keep records will help to encourage them to continue the habit, rather than just telling them how to do it.

During the rest of the summer, we will continue following up with people at site 1 on how their book keeping is going. If they have any trouble with the format, we will plan a different format or create a supplemental sheet that helps them to calculate. Based on these experiences, we will also start teaching groups at site 2 too. Hopefully within the next 2 months, I can give you an update on how their relationship with numbers is going 🙂

2 Responses to Tales From the Field: Becoming friends with numbers

  1. Raymonde says:

    It truly is rare to find informed persons with this issue, but you seem like you are aware of exactly what you are speaking about! With thanks

  2. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

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