Sole Purpose: Video Show (Kenya)

You may have read my urgent appeal for donations almost two weeks ago for my first micro-lending project. I am so thankful for the positive responses, and the $150 that has been donated since. So now, I’m excited to share more details on the project and where it’s at as of today.

The Project:

Sole Purpose’s first micro-lending project is for a Video Show in a rural village. It will essentially be a small movie theater, showing DVDs as well as airing what comes on television. Since most people don’t have tvs out in the villages, Video Shows tend to do a pretty good business. They charge 5 Kenyan shillings per showing, unless it’s a big soccer match (such as the World Cup coming up) for which they can charge 10 Kenyan shillings.

Who are the recipients:

You may have read two earlier posts that mentioned a boy I called James (concerning food theft and my first visit with him). His name is actually John (age 18)  and he has two brothers Patrick (age 15) and Onesmus (age 22) (there are more siblings but these are the three involved in the Video Show).  At the time of writing my previous posts, I had reasons for protecting his privacy. It turns out it is not an issue, so even though I have/will confuse some readers, I will start referring to him as John. John and Patrick are sponsored by Watoto Wa Baraka, which is how I first met them in 2008. These three boys are some of the most intelligent and hardworking people I know.

John, Onesmus, and Patrick: the first recipients of a Sole Purpose loan

When John was just 7 years old he left school to take care of his mother who was suffering from most likely AIDS. He spent four years at home caring for her, but unfortunately she passed away when he was 11. At that point, he had been out of school for five years. Onesmus took him to a private school that gave him a spot in Standard 1. At the age of 11, John entered the first grade. He ad Patrick are now in Standard 8, which means they will enter secondary school next year. It’s not free in Kenya, and quite costly considering the low income of most people. While I am sure the orphanage will cover their tuition, these two boys really need to be boarding at school as well (which will cost about 15,000 Ksh extra per year per child). By boarding, they will receive the best possible education since they will not be walking far distances to and from school, and they will also not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

Onesmus is currently in polytechnic studying computers. He works off his tuition at the school and will finish next May. He will receive a certificate and then would like to go to college to receive a diploma in Computer Science. College courses are much more expensive, and he will also have to move as there are no colleges nearby.

How the Project Came About:

One day a few weeks ago, I was supposed to go in search of the village’s monkeys with John. When I went to his house, he was off helping a neighbor with something. I ended up talking with Onesmus for about two hours who told me about his plan to open a video show eventually so he could save money for college. He had previously managed a video show and already had an idea of the logistics, costs, etc.  After doing some research of my own I realized it was actually a really great idea. The problem: I added up the start-up expenses and realized he would spend a long time trying to earn enough money to start it up. I also concluded that all three of these boys could benefit if we could get it going.

What’s Been Done So Far:

microlending kenya
John holding the TV on our tuk-tuk ride to the matatu station

Like I said in my last post, I felt that it was a large sum for them to pay back, especially since I want them to start saving for school. So I donated $215 out of my travel fund and lent them $200 from my Sole Purpose fund. They have agreed that they will not work in it, except doing a few tasks on the weekends. After paying expenses (wages, rent, electricity) they will use the money as follows: 10% towards repayment of loan, 30% towards living expenses, 20% towards each of the boys’ savings accounts).

Two Sundays ago, I took John with me to Thika to buy the TV and DVD player. We had to take a tuk-tuk to get it to the matatu station which was quite an experience. When I got back from Mombasa this past Sunday morning, I hopped on a matatu to visit the boys one last time and also to see how things were progressing. I was quite impressed. Onesmus had contacted the owner of a building and gotten the rent price (800 Ksh). The building is much nicer that his competitor’s place. Thanks to some advice from a couple of guys that I met who run another NGO, I have advised Onesmus to negotiate paying a larger amount the first month and then less for subsequent months (1200 Ksh first month, 600 Ksh after) It seems that a lot of people here want instant gratification and usually go for it. He also bought the extension cord for the TV and visited a man who sells trees for them to get lumber for benches. Since Onesmus is in school, he was to send the guy who will cut down the tree and plane the wood  to select the tree yesterday. After that is done, the planing guy will deliver the wood to the boys’ neighbor who is a carpenter (to make the benches). They’ve gotten a lot down in a short amount of time, but they’ve got to keep up the pace to open in time for the World Cup. I will be calling to follow up in two weeks and will give an update then!

I would like to give a special thanks to the people who donated to this project:

Joseph/MJL Renewables
Sharmila: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you visit her food blog, be prepared to drool over some pretty amazing recipes and excellent food photography.
Derek: Derek (i.e. Earl) runs an entertaining travel blog and his wanderings have taken him to 67 countries.
Heather: Heather is taking a career break to travel, work, and live in Australia.
Glen: Glen’s Travel Blog: Glen is on a 10 year trip (yes I’m jealous too!), photographing some of the most exquisite places around the world.
Diane: Although Diane personally donated, I wanted to spotlight the organization she works tirelessly for: Non-Profit Chiropractic Organization, which provides chiropractic care in poverty-stricken places around the world.

If you would like to donate to future Sole Purpose projects, you can do so at

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