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M-SAWA project empowers small entrepreneurs: Gloria’s story

Canada in Kenya
Economic growth
May 28, 2018

Gloria in her field of chillies. Photo credit: Dennis Mayaka/MEDA

The unemployment rate in Kenya is 11%; unemployment among youth (ages 15 to 24) doubles that rate to 22.1%. While many job opportunities exist in Nairobi, limited opportunities exist outside the capital.

Maendeleo Sawa

MEDA’s Maendeleo Sawa (M-SAWA) project is actively working to combat this statistic by empowering people through private equity investment and matching grants.

M-SAWA has made over Can$18 million available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in partnership with the Government of Canada. Their matching grant program is currently benefiting 20,000 small entrepreneurs—52% of which are women.

Meet Gloria

Gloria. Photo credit: Nikesh Ghimire/MEDA

As an educated young woman, Gloria knew that she could assist her family if she could use her business and agriculture skills.

When Gloria returned to her village after her schooling, she became involved in a local women’s agriculture group that was partnered with Equator Kenya Limited (EKL), farming African bird’s-eye (ABE) chilies with support of MEDA’s M-SAWA project.

How her chili harvest grew

In August 2017, she planted 500 chili bushes on a small plot of land. Her first harvest was 0.1 kilogram. This result was laughed at by the women in her group.

She was not discouraged. She was determined to do better.

ABE chilies plants. Photo credit: Nikesh Ghimire/MEDA

Through MEDA’s M-SAWA partnership with EKL, Gloria received training in good agronomic practices, nursery management and pre- and post-harvest management of ABE chilies. She was able to apply these skills to significantly improve the productivity of her chili farm.

Currently, Gloria harvests an average 50 kilograms per month. That means she now harvests 500 times more chilies than when she started her business.

Since her chili business has proved to be successful, Gloria plans to extend her farm to 2,500 chili bushes to increase her earnings even more.

Her success is possible, in part, by the drip irrigation kits purchased from EKL. This has not only increased her product output, but also eased her back pain because she no longer has to fetch water to do manual irrigation.

A bright future

As the youngest woman in her women’s agricultural support group, Gloria is a great inspiration to all women.

With her earnings from her chili crop, Gloria constructed the foundation of her new home. She plans to complete it with the sales from her chilies.

Gloria commented that since partnering with EKL and MEDA’s M-SAWA project, she has gained confidence in her abilities and is proud that she can take care of herself financially. She highlighted the importance that her independence has played in raising her confidence. When she told her family that she is a successful chili farmer, they were proud of her initiative and achievements.

Gloria is a good example of the resourcefulness, creativity and innovation that young women can demonstrate, despite the assumptions of others.

[By Katie West, MEDA]

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