Meet the 29-year old Kenyan changing hundreds of lives through fashion

Cherehani has empowered over 600 women in rural areas and financed over 600 sewing machines.

What started as a small project to give back to the society has turned out to be a rather large initiative that has had a huge impact on people's lives.

Wesley Owiti is the brains behind Cherehani Africa, an enterprise that seeks to empower the less-fortunate women in rural areas in Kenya.

Owiti's love for fashion drove him to start the business after completing his university education.

“After I graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor of Commerce, I set out to start Cherehani Africa, a social enterprise that trains women how to sew clothes then lends them sewing machines to empower them once they are sufficiently trained,” Wesley said.

It was no walk in the park for the 39-year old who started the business without any prior work experience. A university degree would neither guarantee him a smooth journey in his quest to run the enterprise that has now trained over 600 women.

Cherehani Africa began with an investment of Sh500, 000 sourced mainly from Owiti’s savings and those of his founders.

The enterprise sought to train women from rural Siaya county on how to sew clothes with the successful ones given sewing machines (worth Sh12,000) on loan and allowed to pay slowly for a period of one year.

Besides having over 600 women, Cherehani has financed over 1,000 production tools including 600 sewing machines.

“Additionally, over US$2.12 million has been generated by the beneficiaries. Cherehani Africa is also well on its way of achieving its mission, which is to pursue financial inclusion through asset financing of tailoring tools and issuance of affordable business loans in emerging markets,” notes Owiti.

And as is norm with any business, Owiti has faced numerous challenges among them limited business management skills, inadequate capital as well as illiteracy among the trainees.

He however acknowledges the big role in which the Mandela Washington Fellowship has played in helping him explore a whole lot of opportunities.

“I have met the best minds in this fellowship. The kind of support I have also received here is also crucial as it has opened my mind to a whole world of opportunities.”

And what really inspires him to do what he does?

The fact that he can help people who would have otherwise never had such opportunities.


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