The residents of Isiolo County, Kenya live in a challenging environment: the county’s arid climate severely impacts the lives of its farmers and their livelihoods. To adapt to these circumstances, some enterprising residents formed the Jiren Jabesa Women Group, a women’s only savings group that pools its savings and provides financing to its members to help them earn livelihoods.
Francis is a barber from Samburu County, Kenya who works hard to provide for his family. Yet, despite his best efforts, he realized that the income from this business could not cover his family’s needs. After he learned about croton seed collection from a local radio station, this inspired him to take on this career path so he could earn additional income.
Since 2019, MEDA, Farm Forestry Smallholder Producers Association of Kenya (FF SPAK), and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) have partnered together to encourage farmers to form and join registered cooperatives in the Coastal counties of Taita Taveta, Kwale, and Kilifi, Kenya.
With a booming chilies market in Kenya, Equator Kenya Limited’s (EKL) business is thriving. Over the past three years of involvement with MEDA’s M-SAWA project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC), EKL has worked with nearly 8,000 (mostly women) farmers and provided 1,000 farmers with access to drip irrigation kits and water harvesting structures. This grant initiative with M-SAWA has also provided thousands of farmers with access to markets to sell their chilies in Kilifi, Lamu, and Kwale counties.
For three years, the Ukrainian beekeepers have been actively testing chlorella algae, which is used as feed for bees. This year, with support from the Ukraine Horticulture Business Development Project (UHBDP), Volodymyr has dared to make a fantastic experiment at his apiary – to combine chlorella with honey.
Adama is a peanut and rice processor in Bauchi. Before the project, she struggled to manage her finances, which limited her savings.
In August 2020, MEDA WAY Nigeria, conducted a 5-day Gender Action & Learning Systems (GALS) training in her community.
“Before this training, I was always spending money … And my husband used to spend money eating outside. He never supported the household financial needs.”
“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.