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From A Sweets Hawker To A Poultry Farmer.

Winnie knows it is no fun to run in the streets of Nairobi, especially if behind you is a ruthless city council askari. She knows how demeaning it feels to be outrun or caught unawares by the same askari, have all goods confiscated, and worse, she knows the frustration of being manhandled and bundled into a county council van and the hopelessness of being locked in that van from outside using a huge padlock.

Meanwhile, two children are waiting at home hoping to have food on the table, clothes on their back, and money in their fees account. She knows this pain because she has been there. Not anymore. This is her story…

The Youth Leader

“I was a youth leader at ‘generation maker’. That meant I would get information directly from the area chief about the happenings in the community. So when The Youth Banner came to our community, I was informed and I attended an information meeting organized by them. I loved the idea and joined.” she told the rest of the participants.

 

Something in Winnie resonated with the ideas being shared. She explained that while in school, business studies fascinated her. Being born of a father who also loved business, she knew that what was being taught here was exactly what she needed. “The Youth Banner facilitators were talking about something in me and I had to bring it out.” she said. She remembers one statement made by a facilitator, “Ni poa kujijua” (it’s good to know yourself). This made her tell her facilitators about her hawking business.

 

I wanted to be a farmer. That is what I wanted to do.

 

In the streets of Nairobi, she hawked sweets. Besides the many aforementioned challenges of a hawker, she only managed to make four hundred shillings on a good day. Less expenses, and she was left in debt. This wasn’t working for her and she wasn’t fulfilled either. She wanted something that wasn’t going to ‘tie her down’. With the empowerment that came with the training, sharing her dreams with facilitators in and outside training sessions, she finally came up with an idea and promised her facilitator and friend Joan Magua: “From today on, I am not going to town for that business any more”. And she has never.

Life Changing Idea

Armed with five thousand shillings, invaluable entrepreneurship and life skills, and an understanding of who she was and what she wanted to do, she shared with her mom the idea of keeping poultry. Her mother was positive. Winnie did every possible research on poultry, and finally settled for the indigenous (kienyeji) chicken which proved to be affordable to keep, and required less attention compared to the non-indigenous ones.

 

She began with two chickens and a cock. As she grew the business, she washed other people’s clothes, houses, and utensils to take care of her expenses, and buy more poultry. And as the old adage goes, “When the student is ready, the teacher shows up”, Irene found people who were willing to hold her hand. From her mom who supported her a lot with the little she had to a veterinary doctor who would offer help on phone about her poultry, and even send her messages with technical expressions when offering interventions for her poultry problems.. Winnie, with the demeanor of a fulfilled lady says she managed to raise the number of her poultry from three (3), to sixty (60).

 

She has more than doubled her income as she now makes well over eight hundred shillings from eggs in a day, and her future seems even brighter.

“They Helped Me Know Who I Am”

Her advice to beneficiaries of The Youth Banner program, “Save! Don’t depend on loans to start up. Personally I have benefited more from my savings”

 

Winnie is indeed ‘better than before’