by Betty Mutua and Katie West
In Kenya, land ownership gives rights, privileges and power. However, few women have access to land ownership.
Kache is one of the few women in her community that owns land. Over the years she has rented her land to MEDA partner, Stone Breeze Limited (SBL), a private enterprise involved in the mass production of stone building blocks.
by Dennis Mayaka and Katie West
Fredrick is a Kenyan farmer who harvests chillies on the six acres of land he inherited from his father.
Fredrick initially focused on the production of horticultural products like eggplant and sweet potato but struggled to market his produce effectively at local markets. He was left with inconsistent income and financial stress – especially during the dry season. “We had to work hard to market our own produce and eat the remainder at our homestead. This eventually led to my farmer community group disintegrating due to lack of markets.”
Caroline’s top priority is providing for her family. After leaving her husband, Caroline started a new life with her three children. To pay rent and school fees she started rearing chickens and goats and growing kale to sell at the local market. Although her income was diversified, she was anxious about her ability to produce enough and find a stable market to buy her produce.
TechnoLinks+ (TL+) is MEDA’s agrobusiness project in Nicaragua whose goal is to connect small-scale farmers to green technology providers - improving agricultural practices across the country while promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability. To achieve this goal, the TL+ project collaborates with two main agricultural groups: small-scale farming producers and farming cooperatives.
Efficiency is the ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, efforts, money and time. This valuable skill is especially important for small and medium-sized businesses as it can be cost-effective and allow the business to scale sustainably and productively.
In Kenya, MEDA’s M-SAWA project is supporting economic growth by partnering with small and medium-sized enterprises in the agriculture sector.
MEDA partner Mace Foods sources vegetables, herbs and spices from farmers to dehydrate and export to local and international markets. Although Mace Foods produces many products, their most popular export is a variety of chili called the African Birds Eye Chili (ABE).
Have you ever made a significant career change? With a career change comes new challenges, stressors and opportunities. Evans can speak to this personally.
Evans owns two acres of irrigated land in Kenya, which he inherited from his father. But he left the family estate when he was young to pursue work in Nairobi in the milk processing industry. He worked in this industry for about 20 years until the post-election violence in 2007 drove him return to his hometown and invest his earnings from milk processing into his family rice farm.
Gizaw Tessema is an energetic rice entrepreneur in Ethiopia who joined the rice business in 2011 as a rice paddy trader. This means he collected rice from farmers and brought it to rice processers.
Rice is the third largest agricultural commodity in the world. Over 741.5 million tons of rice is produced every year. The majority of which is grown in India and Thailand. Outside of India, Thailand and China, there is little competition.
Gizaw is trying to change that, but it is at the beginning of a difficult journey.
Hamelmal Ashagrie is excited for the future.
“I know there is demand for these vegetables. I know they will fetch a higher price on the international market. I’m excited to explore this opportunity.”
Hamelmal is a farmer in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. For over 60 years, she has supported her family and village with the income she earns from selling her produce at the local market.
The picture is almost always the same. When you arrive in a place where women parboil rice, the first thing you notice is large pots on an open fire. The pots are made from an oil drum cut in half, cast aluminum purchased from the market, or fabricated out of sheet metal. The second thing you see is a large pile of firewood, purchased by the bundle or by the ton. When firewood is not available, or is too expensive, it is substituted with maize stalk or cow dung. Looking back at the fire you can see it is carefully managed between the three stones the pots rest upon and, of course, there is the acrid smell of smoke.
Sorghum is used in many parts of the world today. In parts of Africa and Asia, Sorghum is used to make flatbreads. In the United States, sweet sorghum syrup is known as molasses.
With the demand for sorghum on the rise, farmers around the world have expanded their land by 66% to satisfy demand.
In Kenya, Smart Logistics Solutions Ltd. (SLS) is an agribusiness that is capitalizing on this burgeoning market, while also making social change at the community level in rural areas of the country.
Did you know that coffee is the most consumed beverage among adults in Canada – even more than water?
According to McCafe, more than one-third of Americans indulge heavily in this popular beverage.
But do you know where your coffee beans come from?
These sacred beans come from countries like Ethiopia, South Africa and Kenya.
“My husband was my first customer”, says Intisar, a new food entrepreneur selling pickles in Balqa governorate in Jordan, northwest of the capital Amman.
To get to where she is today, Intisar had to get past a few barriers that usually stop women from entering the business world in Jordan. The main constraint was the way the community criticizes her as a woman who leaves her house to earn a living. Another was her lack of knowledge in business management and fear of failure.
In 2005 the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) established a one-of-a-kind ecolodge in the heart of Wadi Feynan in Dana Biosphere Reserve named Feynan Ecolodge. Four years later, a partnership was initiated between the RSCN and EcoHotels, a local Jordanian company, who took over the management and operational responsibilities of the lodge and transformed it to internationally acclaimed ecolodge. Feynan, with more than 20 international awards, provides visitors with a plethora of unique and authentic experiences while contributing to the conservation of the Dana nature reserve.
When Shwe In Thu (SIT), a nongovernmental organization in Myanmar, introduced the Improving Market Opportunities for Women project to the village of That Yet Sin, the women responded to the opportunity by forming the Village Saving and Loan Association. Daw Thu was eager to join, but her husband did not support that idea.
Poverty kept Daw Nan Hla Tin from getting an education when she was a child. After she married, she found work as a domestic laborer in Thailand, but returned to Myanmar after the birth of her first child. At home, she used her savings to open a tiny grocery store, but her income was not stable and she often ran out of operating funds because she didn’t know how to budget or keep accounts.
Innovation is one of those buzzwords that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It is easy to associate this word with technology or something that is unique and complex. But at its core, innovation is simply a new method, idea or product. It doesn’t have to be a crazy idea (although these are good too).
At MEDA, many innovations may seem simple, but really, they are complex and nuanced. A project that perfectly highlights this idea of innovation is MEDA’s BEST Cassava project.