Credence Maina and an employee in front of her CFWshop Acumen Fund is non-profit global venture fund that uses entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty. It is working to create a blueprint for building financially sustainable and scalable organizations that deliver affordable, critical goods and services to the poor. Acumen Fund invests in both for-profit and non-profit organizations using innovative, market-oriented approaches in three critical areas – health, water and housing – in Africa and South Asia. These organizations share a commitment to creating real change for the “Bottom of the Pyramid,” the four billion people in the world living on less than $4 per day. Credence, whose story follows, is a franchise-owner for one such organization, the Sustainable Healthcare Enterprise Foundation (SHEF).
Credence Maina, a Community Health Worker (CHW) in Central Kenya, first attended a training course on the diseases which most affect her community twenty years ago. Afterward, she received a small bag of drugs needed to treat these diseases.
Working diligently to improve the health of villagers, Credence walked great distances to reach customers. She had to use most of her profits for transport to retrieve replenishment drugs from pharmacies in large towns.
In 1999, Credence learned about the Sustainable Healthcare Enterprise Foundation (SHEF), a micro-franchise distribution network created to expand access to affordable critical drugs and basic health services. She met with other CHWs to discuss the challenges facing mobile health workers, and they decided to form the first franchise system serving the need for essential drugs in the community. Credence applied for a Child and Family Wellness Shop (CFWshop), investing $200 of her own capital and receiving a micro-loan of $800 to cover the cost of initial inventory, furnishings and equipment, as well as training on business and client management and drug administration.
Credence’s CFWshop venture, which she has operated for four years, is a success. She stocks basic drugs supplied by SHEF and attends to over 1,000 patients every month. In 2002, she hired a nurse for $100 per month so that she could focus on the needs of her customers.
From her CFWshop, Credence earns roughly 10 times the income that she earned before. Although she has only a primary school education herself, she has been able to send her children just to high school but also to college. And she is highly regarded in her community not only for her entrepreneurial achievement, but because she provides essential services.