Yet, small businesses and farmers face many obstacles to creating prosperous businesses and farms. They have the talent and drive but lack the business supports needed to prosper. Without access to investment capital, technology, proper inputs and other forms of financing, business owners and farmers in Kenya struggle to get by.
Women-led small and medium–sized enterprises (SMEs) and small entrepreneurs (SEs) face additional challenges due to longstanding gender inequalities and barriers. These barriers translate into missed opportunities for businesspeople, farmers, and the many communities that could benefit from the value they generate.
With twenty years in the business, Esther is familiar with the ups and downs of farming. On her plot of land in Turkana County, Kenya, she’s had good rains in some years, where she can grow good produce. In other years, there is less rain and fewer profits. Lately, there were further challenges: the National Irrigation Board of Kenya stopped buying her products, which took away another layer of security.
As a mother, farmer, and local government official, Esther knows the value of diversification. Because of the unpredictable nature of farming, she’s always looking to find other ways to provide for herself and her family. Luckily, one day, she connected with MEDA’s partner organization, Paves Vetagro Limited (PVL). PVL is an agent and distributor of animal health and agricultural products that support livestock keepers with practical skills and training. It received a Lead Firm matching grant through the M-SAWA project to support clients like Esther while growing their own business. Through PVL and the M-SAWA project, Esther learned she could use her leadership skills to mobilize farmers and become an Agrovet dealer (a salesperson that sells medication to pastoralists). She also learned how to find and use better crop inputs through this project.
Her involvement with the project increased her farm’s productivity and led to better harvests and sales. Esther became an Agrovet dealer and received financial support to purchase the necessary licenses to operate her business legally. She has also been able to hire two employees to run her business and about five seasonal employees to aid her two-acre farm. In the last season, she grew tomatoes and maize.
Esther’s business is now profitable, allowing her to pay for her children’s education and improve her family’s living standards. She has also contributed to her community by hiring local workers and buying products from other farmers. Her hard work with PVL has also paid off for 30 SEs who gained access to environmentally safe, labor and time-saving technologies, such as more affordable knapsack sprayers, injection syringes, and animal dewormers. The community has appreciated the benefits of the technology that Paves and sales agents like Esther facilitated. Now, the farmers who have benefited from these technologies are also seen as models which other community members can emulate.
Your generosity continues to make a big difference in the lives of people like Esther. Your giving has created decent work and sustainable livelihoods for small-scale farmers and small business owners throughout Kenya. M-SAWA is another example of how your partnership can create decent work and make a substantial impact. Through your remarkable generosity, hardworking farmers and entrepreneurs gain access to the necessary tools to build profitable farms, businesses, and reliable value chains that support their growing industry.
Rose Mutuku, founder of Smart Logistics, a lead firm with the M-SAWA project.
SMEs awarded Lead Firm grants to support SEs within their supply/distribution chains
SEs supported with decent work opportunities
Received business development services support and technical assistance
SMEs awarded alliance / association grants
SMEs provided with third-party financing
Business associations awarded matching grants to support their SME members
SMEs were assisted in accessing investment capital through private equity funds