“The aroma from the Café Del Duca coffee has distinguished me and enabled me to market my business. Today I have cash from my daily coffee sales and my children never sleep hungry,” says Amina. Amina is a 29-year-old single mother of two currently residing in Nambale village, Busia county, Kenya where she runs a coffee vending business.
Redemuta is a coffee farmer in rural Kenya. She is an 80-year-old mother of five, currently living with her school-aged grandchild. She became involved in coffee farming after she lost her husband in 1987 and had to take over the management of their farm. Although their land was automatically passed on to her, as a woman, the legal transfer process was not easy. She has since subdivided her land allotting it to her 3 sons.
Muchele is a 60-year-old coffee farmer who lives in Bungoma county. He was a maize and sugarcane farmer before shifting to coffee farming. As various sugar companies in his region collapsed, he was having major issues receiving payment for his sugarcane. His income is much more stable now that he works as a coffee producer supplying to Caffe del Duca Ltd. (CDDL), a coffee processor which offers him a good price and consistently purchases all of his produce.
Selina Chepngeno Sigei is a 43-year old mother of 7 children who lives in Bomet county. Previously, her husband was the main breadwinner for the family; however, in 2011, Selina decided to purchase a cow and begin producing milk to help supplement the family income. Later, she decided to diversify her own business activities by beginning to work as a milk aggregator and transporter.
Fowzia is a 32-year-old woman from a Somali community in Garissa county, Kenya where she lives with her extended family. Born in a rural Somali community, Fowzia, like other women in her community, has minimal opportunities and decision-making power. The community has traditionally operated as a patriarchy and to date have strongly maintained their culture.
Vegpro Ltd. is a major exporter of vegetables, fruits and flowers to the UK and Europe. Although 90% of the company’s produce comes from its own farms, in 2011, Vegpro partnered with small scale farmers through the Taita County Horticultural Outgrowers (TCHO), with the aim of facilitating production, value addition and marketing of sugar snaps, snow peas (Mange tout peas), French beans.
Merry is a banana farmer from, Tanzania. She started her farm shortly after getting married to support her family and pay for her four daughters’ education. On its own, her banana farm did not allow her to earn enough to fulfill these goals.Merry knew that she would need to grow her business further. That is why she jumped at the chance to work with Natural Extracts Industries Ltd (NEI) to grow vanilla in the shade of her banana trees. NEI provided farmers in her community with training on sustainable farming practices and subsidized vanilla seeds to get started. The Tanzanian social enterprise also harvested and bought the vanilla once it was ready.
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.