Charity’s Kenyan starts-ups backed by The Alternative Board
The Alternative Board (TAB), an Aberdeen advisory firm that helps North-east businesses to grow has backed a charity initiative to support start-ups in Kenya.
TAB has decided to back the Gathimba Edwards Foundation’s (GEF) Two Feet Initiative which enables families to plan, start and run their own businesses. TAB is the headline sponsor of this initiative.
The Two Feet Initiative has so far enabled 40 business start-ups across 13 regions of Kenya including hair salons, horticulture and dairy farming, retail shops and cafes.
Following a thorough assessment of set up costs, viability and sustainability, GEF provides part loan/part grant funding to each business. A loan payback agreement is decided, and the return of money is reinvested into future businesses for other families. Each business is allocated a business mentor who guides them with procurement and is actively involved through our monthly review process.
TAB in the Aberdeen area is led by Helen Mill, former director of commercial innovation during a 16-year period at Robert Gordon University, and Jonathan Smith, a former executive with a global energy firm and a winner of the Inspirational Mentor of the Year at the 2019 Elevator Awards.
Helen Mill, owner and board facilitator at TAB in Scotland, said: “Supporting entrepreneurs is at the heart of what we do at The Alternative Board, but for me it goes even further back. I have, in my working life supported solo inventors and spinout technologies from university research.
“I know that starting a business is not easy but can enrich lives not just financially but spiritually. I believe that the support offered through the Two Feet initiative has the potential to change lives for the better.”
Myles Edwards, co-founder of Gathimba Edwards Foundation, added: “We are incredibly grateful to The Alternative Board for this fantastic support. With the businesses in Kenya more than 500 miles apart, our team work tirelessly to support the families to achieve success, self-sufficiency and independence.
“Naturally, running and logistical costs occur with the regular mentoring and monitoring nature of the programme and so the TAB support will enable us to run the programme with maximum effectiveness.”
Previous beneficiaries of GEF support include ‘Bonnie Wee Shop’ which was funded by Aberdeen-based business Bonnie Wee Golf. Bonnie Wee Shop is a small grocery shop run by Mary Nafula (known as Mama Viki) in Iten, Kenya.
The shop, which was built onto the side of her house by local workers in Kenya, has enabled her to run some farming projects where she is successfully growing maize, spinach, passion fruit, cabbage and other fruits and vegetables for sale and consumption. The income she generates from the shop has enabled her to put food on the table – something which was not always possible.
Gathimba Edwards Foundation was officially established in May 2014 by Gideon Gathimba and Myles Edwards. The pair met while running in a one-mile event for the opening of the Aberdeen Sports Village in 2009.