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.
Fowzia dreamed of having her own family and husband to provide for her, but so far, her life has not turned out the way she expected. “Being a single woman at my age is not easy, especially in our community where marriage is a yard stick to success.” Her marital status has caused her to endure hurtful comments from her community.
“My dream of having a husband has not come true, so instead I started to consider how I could create my own source of income. One of the businesses I started began within my father’s homestead as a small-scale poultry farmer,” Fowzia said. In line with Somali cultural traditions, Fowzia needed the approval of her father to start a business. After many discussions, Fowzia got his approval to start her own poultry business with funds she had saved through a self-help group.
Through MEDA’s M-SAWA project, Fowzia was connected to Sidai Africa, a company carrying out a livestock campaign near her home. Fowzia was impressed with the overview of Sidai services including poultry-keeping and poultry health so she continued to connect with them for further advice about expanding her poultry business.
Although Fowzia had over 100 chickens as part of her business, she was struggling to commercialize because her egg production was unstable, and she struggled to manage her expenses.
As part of the M-SAWA project, animal health experts offered to provide services to commercialize Fawzia’s business through training and technical support. Under this partnership, Fowzia was linked to distributors of one day old chicks and was given subsequent training on poultry production, quality feed, vaccinations, water intake and poultry hygiene.
Through the training received through the M-SAWA project, Fowzia increased and improved her production capacity and was able to detect early signs of disease in order to seek veterinary services. “Before Sidai, I was not able to improve egg production because I did not have the knowledge and skills in poultry farming. Since partnering with MEDA and Sidai, I am now collecting 23 crates of eggs everyday and none of my poultry have died,” said Fowzia. The training she received in improved production practices, quality feed, vaccinations and linkages to high-quality day-old chick distributors all contributed to this positive result.
Fowzia has grown her flock from 800 to 1200-layer birds. She now collects an average of 30 crates of eggs per day for sale. With the success of her business, Fowzia has grown in confidence despite going against what is culturally expected and she is standing on her own.
The success of her business has opened great prospects for her, and she intends to expand her business to keep 3,000-layer birds.
Fowzia is also considered an icon in her community and many women groups visit her farm to learn about farming practices. Several women groups have undergone training on poultry farming through demos on her farm and started rearing layer birds. Within the established groups they aggregate and sell the eggs to large buyers such as hotels. The group selling has also helped them to get better prices and buy poultry feeds in bulk thus cheaper for group members. Fowzia is continuing to use her knowledge and experience to mobilize women groups to start egg production and form cooperatives to sell their eggs so they can experience the same improved incomes and economic empowerment that she experienced.