Spotlight on Dancan Onyango
Meet Dancan Onyango: Founder of Jiwo Paro (Kenya) and MBA candidate at Babson College, Dancan is enthusiastic about financial services for the poor.
What company story has inspired your entrepreneurial career?
I am inspired by the story of Grameen Bank, which provides working capital to low-income women in Bangladesh to give them access to formal and cost-effective financial services and reduce their vulnerability. Since launching Jiwo Paro, a social micro-finance venture which provides micro-enterprise training and financing sewing machines to underserved seamstresses in Kenya, we have become one of the widely recognized Grameen-style startups by financing over 1200 sewing machines and an equal number of loans to low-income women.
Who has inspired you most on your entrepreneurial journey?
My mother, Teresa, was a seamstress in a rural part of Kisumu county Kenya. With one sewing machine, she ran a seamstress business sewing school uniforms and at the same time pro-bono training to orphaned girls within her shop. As a single mother, she managed to provide us good education, despite all odds. Thus, after a long mission-aligned work with a micro-finance bank in Cambodia, I returned to Kenya and started Jiwo Paro, leveraging my mum's network with grassroots seamstresses which culminated into a company to provide skills-readiness training to excluded women and leasing sewing machines to enable them start their own seamstresses businesses.
What accomplishment are you most proud of to date?
I received the prestigious MasterCard Foundation scholarship to pursue an Executive Education course on Rethinking Financial Inclusion at Harvard Kennedy School in 2015, which informed my perspective on financial inclusion and reinvigorated my drive to implement solutions that solve women’s access to financial services. Globally, women face greater financial exclusion within every geography and across every income level. Additionally, I received The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders and the Prestigious Diversity Leadership Scholarship to Babson College.
Your Personal Bible: The Thing Around Your Neck - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie