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A Reason to Smile

 May 15, 2020 • 3 minute read

Agnes with her daughter in front of the hotel she runs in the middle of town.

By Bobby Irven | Communications Manager, BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative

In a remote town in eastern Kenya sits a small shop and hotel where people come to sip tea, buy commodities, and chat. The establishment might not stand out, but the beaming smile of its owner Agnes does. Agnes is a mother, a wife, a fighter, a leader, and a beacon of pride and joy in her community. But for a long time, Agnes did not smile. She felt she had nothing to smile for.

Before Agnes joined the PROFIT Financial Graduation Program in 2017, she was living in extreme poverty and supporting her seven children was a daily struggle. The uncertainty of the future was something that caused her deep anxiety.

“Previously my confidence was very low, and I was embarrassed of my home,” she reflected.

Her family and their constant struggle to get by upset her most. But as Agnes began the Graduation program’s basic training sessions on business management and life skills, and then received seed capital to kick start her hotel business, things began to change. By increasing the value of her business and starting better savings practices,

Agnes was able to begin making improvements there and in her home. She was then able to turn her focus to investing in her children’s future, a shift she had yearned for, but had never materialized until that point.

Agnes with her daughter in front of the hotel she runs in the middle of town.
Agnes with her daughter in front of the hotel she runs in the middle of town.

Graduation programming allows mothers to invest in their children’s development beyond just meeting basic needs like shelter and daily meals. Through her group training sessions and weekly interactions with a dedicated program mentor, she slowly learned the value of education, relationship building, and empowerment, which had adeep impact on her family and even community members.

During her time in the Graduation program, Agnes cited being able to give advice to her peers to work hard and hit their savings and Graduation targets. The life skills, health, and savings best practices learned throughout the training sessions created a unique opportunity for Agnes to take on a leadership role within her community and become a better role model for her children.

Agnes now has a plan for her future and knows how to achieve it. She wants to continue to invest in her hotel business and her family, making education a top priority for her school-age children to ensure they will have a brighter future and plenty of reasons to smile.

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