I left New York’s lovely weather on the eighteenth of June and was welcomed into Nairobi’s cold June weather – referred to as the ‘ Kenyan winter’ by the locals on the next day. The first week was used up mainly in establishing contacts and meeting dates with my research team members; Peter Magati, an MA (Econ) candidate at the University of Nairobi and Lillian Ollows, a PhD fellow from the Gordon Institute of Business at the University of Pretoria, South Africa – both lecturers at Strathmore University.
Although working at different capacities, our group’s main objective is to research on Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT) Group, a financing facility for the Kenyan Federation of Slum Dwellers. Peter is more interested in matters concerning land ownership and security of tenure, Lillian is working on personal financial management while I’m more into how women in organized savings groups and working in collaboration with organizations such as AMT are able to realize objectives such as the upgrading of their homes and tuition fee payments for their children.
Experience has so far taught me that one can never really over estimate:
1. The time needed to set appointments that actually materialize and
2. The procedures that need to be undertaken before undertaking research that involves human subjects.
Although both are time and energy consuming, they are well worth the effort and one gets to learn quite a bit!
Second week in Kenya, I was still working on the questionnaire, interview and focus group discussion questions that we would use for data collection and getting them approved by the Institutional Review Board at Fordham University. My team members and I also worked on syncing our questions to avoid duplicity and ensure efficiency in as far as the interviewing and focus group time was concerned.
Also before embarking on the data collection, our group needed to fill up and submit a certain ‘Form A’ which is an application for authority to conduct research in Kenya and a requirement by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. This was done successfully on Wednesday last week and we finally got our green light!
As I waited for feedback from AMT, I got to meet Mrs. Margareth Ndegwa, a Child Volunteer Officer and a leader of one of the women’s savings groups at a slum area called Kanguruwe in Nairobi on the third week of my stay in Kenya. I have so far managed to set up a meeting with her group on the eighteenth of this month. I will also be meeting officials of the government supported Kenyan Women Federation Trust fund and Jamii Bora bank (which works almost like AMT) next week.
Finally, tomorrow at 10:45am Peter, Lillian and I will be meeting Kingsley Mucheke, the co-founder of AMT at their Hurlingham Office. We were actually lucky to get him at the time since both he and Jane Weru (the other founder of AMT) will soon be travelling to Russia to receive the Olga Alexeeva Memorial Prize – which according to the award criteria – is given to those who demonstrate remarkable leadership, creativity and results in developing philanthropy for progressive social change in an emerging market or country.