Shaving Heads to Save for Schooling: Jackson Muriithi’s Story

Jackson's Shop from Outside.
Jackson’s New Barber Shop in Kirinyaga.

Jackson Muriithi (aged 20) is a member of of St Phillip’s Njoguini Church in Kirinyaga, Kenya. In 2017 he completed his KCSE (final school-level exams) but due to financial difficulties, he has been unable to continue onto college as he had expected. Jackson is the oldest of his three siblings and is having to wait until they have all been through school before he can continue with his own education so he can provide for them. His parents own one acre of land which they use to farm cabbages, sugarcane, kale, sweet potatoes and carrots, but productivity is majorly affected by the local climate – their land is too far from a significant water source which could be used for irrigation. Hence, they rely on a good rainy season to provide a bountiful harvest.

Since leaving school in 2017, Jackson has been working on the family farm to help his parents make ends meet for the family. For almost 2 years, he has worked tirelessly for his family in this way.
In April 2018 Jackson came across the Kirinyaga Community Development Trust through an interaction with AID staff member, Tabitha. Jackson joined the project straight away through St Phillips Njoguini Church which had an existing group linked to the microfinance project in Kirinyaga. By June 2019, the group had accumulated savings of Ksh 684,110 (£5349.74) and loans amounting to 493,000 (£3855.26).

Jackson Shaving a Customers Head.
Jackson cutting the hair of a customer in his barber shop.

Upon joining this group, Jackson began saving Ksh 200 from what little he had. Gradually, as farm sales continued and with the help of those in the group, Jackson began increasing his savings and within 6 months had accumulated Ksh 40,000 (£312.80). With this, he applied for a loan through the Kirinyaga Community Development Trust and received Ksh 80,000, enough to rent a small premises, two electric shavers and other small pieces of equipment for his barber shop business. Jackson doesn’t shy away from admitting that the process of setting up this venture was far from easy: ‘I almost gave up…people didn’t trust me because of my age and lack of experience’. However, they weren’t aware that Jackson had begun barber training in the time when he wasn’t working in the shop!

By his resilience, Jackson’s customer base slowly grew and within 7 months he was able to repay half of his loan. As time progressed, more and more local people began using his service – young children especially, and by April 2019, Jackson was able to move into a bigger premises which could accommodate another seat. Jackson has been able to start supporting his siblings through school and his parents in buying supplies for the family. As the business continues to grow he is now looking to employ an assistant to help him run the business and cope with increasing demand.

In total, since joining the Kirinyaga Community Trust, Jackson has saved Ksh 63,900 (£499.70) (as of August 2019), approaching a goal of Ksh 100,000 (£782.00). Along with another loan, this would enable him to build a house for himself and invest in tomato farming locally in order to further support his family’s needs.