Statics from different sources including from UN-Women have shown that women and particularly rural women are key agents for development. Women play catalytic role towards achievement of transformational economic, environmental and social change required for sustainable development. Despite being less defined by cultural practices as famine and care providers at most rural households, women in places like Isiolo have broken barriers to become champions in households and great contributors of the Kenyan economy. With these unique challenges, women still face other common challenges of insecurity, extreme climate change conditions like drought, and frequent intercommunity conflicts caused by limited resources of water and pasture. Women have upgraded the living standards of their households.
Majority of the women have formed groups to help address their societal and economic challenges together. With these groups, they engage in various activities ranging from poultry keeping, bee keeping, camel milk marketing, livestock marketing, farming, savings, merry go round and table banking that help them pool resources together. Through the groups, the women have been able to register massive developments.
Abdia, Chair of Ismaqal Women Group narrates how the group have helped women in the community earn an income to sustain their family and grow their business.
“Women living in the ASAL areas face numerous challenges as they play a big role in managing the home. Back in 2007 and 2008, when war broke out, our husbands went to fight leaving us behind to take care of the home and the children. Also, since we are pastoralists, there is frequent cattle wrestling and our men have to go fight to return the stolen animals.
The responsibilities of the home and the children are left with women in the homestead and with no visible income – at that time, we were unable to feed our children and take them to school.
It was a result of such challenges that we came together as women to form a group where we would support each other with merry go round and savings where we would deposit some amount in our bank account and share profits. We have gradually improved as now we started buying and selling goats – currently we buy and sell up to 200 goats a month.
We have so far supported 10 members with capital to start small businesses of which they are required to contribute to the group Ksh. 1000 monthly.
It’s through this group that we have been able to take our children to school and able to provide for our families. I am really grateful for the training and coaching on the Business Model that has greatly challenged us to identify our key partners, cost, resources, revenues. We also learnt about importance of branding, group logo & also identify channels of our business.…”
Over the decades there have been establishment of women groups within Isiolo that is transforming livelihoods across the county.
E4Impact Foundation is implementing the component on Enterprise Development in the ‘Drought Resilience in Isiolo County’ (DRIC) Project funded by European Union and is working with women groups across Isiolo County particularly in offering capacity building in Group operations, management and introduction & development of Sustainable Business models for the groups that is aimed at Strengthening the group’s operations and accelerate the group’s businesses to achieve sustainability. The trainings are tailored and aimed at equipping the groups with skills to pursue new livelihoods and adapt technology to their needs.
DRIC project is implemented with a consortium of partners: VSF-Suisse/Kenya, WeWorld Onlus, E4Impact Foundation, Comitato Collaborazione Medica (CCM) and SOMIRENEC
By Ekea Leonard
E4Impact Business Coach