Paving blocks keep Kitui women in business

By Milliam Murigi
Monday, May 31st, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Ushindi Group members mixing raw materials to make blocks. Photo/PD/Milliam Murigi

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

At Redeemed Gospel Church, Chuluni, Nzambani sub-county, Kitui county, a group of women are busy at work.

There are those who are making face masks while others are making cabro paving blocks.

These are aesthetically pleasing flat stones designed for use in paving projects such as walkways, patios, and driveways.

The paving blocks section got my attention. Tabitha Mutisya, chairlady of the group welcomes me. 

She shares how for the past eight months, a group of close to 30 women known as the Ushindi Group has been making these bricks to earn a living.

There are stacks of paving bricks of varying sizes and shapes sitting on the front yard, ready to be dispatched.

The group has a makeshift factory and a small Makiga Multipurpose Vibrator, which they use to make the bricks.

The machine was donated by Compassion International, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that is dedicated to saving children from poverty.

Empowering women

“Compassion International is an NGO that saves children from poverty. They started this project to empower women economically,” says Tabitha.

Tabitha Mutisya. Photo/PD/Milliam Murigi

Operating such a machine requires one to have the technical know-how, and therefore, women were trained on the job by the organisation.

They then started producing products that are sold through various contracts the organisation has with different institutions.

After the products are sold, the organisation deducts the cost of production and the rest is given to the women.

“The organisation started by training a group of eight women in July last year who later reached out to 22 others and trained them.

After the training, we were provided with the raw material and we started making paving bricks commercially in August, last year,” she says.

According to her, the best thing about that business is that they have a ready market for their bricks.

Currently, they are supplying three schools, but other institutions have also started showing interest in their products.

This has also helped to keep women busy unlike before when they used to have nothing to do.

The women have divided themselves into groups of 10 people and each group works twice a week. Using sand, cement, quarry dust, and water, every group makes at least 600 pieces of bricks daily. The cost of the blocks is Sh800 per square metre.

Tabitha says the business has been of great help to the women. All of them were housewives, who used to rely on their husbands. But now they are helping their husbands to settle some bills.

In particular, they have managed to keep their children in school unlike before when children used to be in and out of schools because of lack of school fees.

 “Each woman makes at least Sh300 per day. This business has transformed the lives of desperate women who have been looking for jobs.

Here we don’t discriminate, we work with both young and old. Our youngest is 20 years old and the oldest is 50 years old,” she explains.

Unique opportunity

According to Festus Kimanzi from Compassion International, they chose to train women how to make paving blocks because the raw materials are readily available in that area, there’s demand for products and the process requires no educational background.

Another reason is that he wanted to help solve the unemployment crisis in the county, especially for women.

“I was looking for a unique opportunity, which would give women good income.

The idea of making paving bricks was born when I heard a certain institution looking for such bricks unsuccessfully.

This is when I decided to look for a trainer to train the women, and for sure the business hasn’t failed us, it picking up well,” says Kimanzi.

According to Tabitha, demand for these blocks is high because they are simple and easy to install, cost-effective, easy to maintain, durable and strong, and do not need special maintenance as compared to concrete or asphalt surfaces.

Also, one needs not to alter the whole place when replacing an individual or some blocks.

All one needs to do is to remove the affected block and replace it with a new one without leaving a lasting mark once the block has been replaced.

“Cabro paving blocks are durable, and if they are adequately interlocked, they can easily last for about 20 years.

They can also withstand both hot and cold temperatures and heavy foot traffic. You also don’t need skilled labour to install them as you can do it yourself,” she says.

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