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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’

What is the Greatest Resource?

Daniel Osumba told his story in many ways. He donned a yellow T-Shirt written ‘…it is my responsibility’. There was this serious look about him. Everyone seemed to listen to him in those conversations before the formal reflection session. As a Zetech University student taking a diploma in community development, one would wonder why he went for the entrepreneurship training. When it was time to tell his story, I listened…

 

“…these trainings helped me a lot. I was able to open my own hotel business, something I wasn’t able to do with my continuing college education only.” And yes, to confirm how this knowledge had transformed him into a skillful entrepreneur, he was at some point forced to leave his business in the watch of someone else who hadn’t been trained and the budding business collapsed.

One begins to appreciate the value upon seeing that they can succeed where others fail. “We really appreciate what you people are doing.” he said in reference to the team of CHF and The Youth Banner which had convened this reflection session.

 

Armed with the arsenal of economic empowerment, Daniel is fighting a good fight against community conflicts, poverty and ignorance. I caught up with him later after the reflection session and I asked him what his best arrows in his quiver were.

He didn’t bat an eyelid. “I am using the economic empowerment slogan to pass the knowledge I acquired to help others in my community to become entrepreneurs too. I speak to business people, merry-go-round women groups, chamas, especially Canaan and Luvenant Self Help Groups.”

 

He highlights three things that are helping those that he trains

  1. Cultivating a saving culture
  2. How to write a business plan
  • Resource mobilization.

 

“All these things, I learnt from The Youth Banner trainings.” he says

 

Daniel is young and energetic, just like most young people in this community, some of whom engage in petty and sometimes violent crimes, besides being used by rogue politicians to fight for their personal gains. But he is different. He has been empowered to use his energy for his good, and he is using that to make his community better.

The Greatest Resource Is Human Resource… Taking Responsibility