Empowering people with financial knowledge

Giving Kenya’s duka owners tools to thrive

Three years ago, single mother Nancy Wambui was living with her young son in the back of her shop in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, selling a small stock of eggs, tomatoes, milk and cakes. She had capital of just $50. Today, her shop is valued at over $4,000, and her future plans for the business include expanding into wholesale and opening other locations. She is purchasing land valued at $20,000 on which she plans to construct rental houses.

Wambui attributes her success to what she learned about savings and loan readiness through the Smart Duka initiative, which supports mom and pop shops like hers — known in Kenya as “dukas.” In 2019, this program expanded as a result of a collaboration between Moody’s and our Reshape Tomorrow™ partner TechnoServe, a nonprofit operating in 29 countries that works with enterprising women and men in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. Together, our organizations are helping to reduce unemployment, boost local economies and transform lives across Kenya and beyond.


“We’re not just giving people one fish and expecting them to make do. Through the Smart Duka program, we’re teaching people how to fish and helping them thrive for many years to come.”
ELSIE NGINA
BUSINESS ADVISOR, TECHNOSERVE

Small shops driving economic growth

Small businesses are vital to the economy in Nairobi, where more than half the population lives in impoverished areas.1 Dukas play an important role in helping lift residents out of poverty.

So far, the Smart Duka program has helped 1,025 Nairobi shop owners, more than half of whom are women, get the support and training they need to start and maintain sustainable business models and generate profit to support their families. And in the next five years, the program aims to train 100,000 entrepreneurial owners across Kenya to expand their business and financial management skills.

Hands-on training with financial experts

To date, financial experts from Moody’s have conducted six virtual training sessions with 120 duka owners. In addition, a team of our volunteers and TechnoServe business counselors held an in-person mentorship session for 60 shop owners in Nairobi in July 2019. These digital and on-the-ground trainings empower duka owners with important elements of financial management, including supply chain handling and shop management practices.

“It was a great experience to work with the Kenyan duka owners who have a passion to learn about best financial management practices,” says Sven Reinke, senior vice president of Moody’s Investors Service. “Giving people the tools they need to help themselves is a great way to ensure their businesses are successful in the long run.”

Personal progress, profitable growth

Wambui’s story is just one of many personal successes to come out of Smart Duka. For Florence Muthoni, another duka owner in Nairobi, the program gave her the skills she needed to bounce back after initial failure. Following her mother’s death, Muthoni spent years hawking wares on the city’s streets before she could save enough money to open a shop that sold cereal.

With fierce competition, she could not keep customers coming in, so she had to shut it down. About a year later, she made one more attempt, using the last of the money she had received from selling her cereal shop to buy another duka. By this time, she had also discovered TechnoServe’s program.

“The timing couldn’t have been more perfect,” she says. “Now, I go to work every day and get to apply what I have learned from the Smart Duka program. It has taught me a lot about expanding my inventory to give customers what they want. And giving them what they want keeps them coming back.”

We hope Nairobian entrepreneurs like Muthoni and Wambui continue to thrive long after the Smart Duka program ends. “Moody’s believes in the mission of transforming people’s lives, and our partnership has been exceptional,” says Elsie Ngina, a business advisor with TechnoServe. “We’re not just giving people one fish and expecting them to make do. Through the Smart Duka program, we’re teaching people how to fish and helping them thrive for many years to come.”

Giving people the tools they need

“[The program] has taught me a lot about expanding my inventory to give customers what they want. And giving them what they want keeps them coming back.”
FLORENCE MUTHONI
SMALL DUKA OWNER IN NAIROBI

1. Population and Health Dynamics in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements: Report of the Nairobi Cross-sectional Slums Survey 2012, African Population and Health Research Center, January 1, 2014.