Enhancing Rural Women and Youth Engagement in Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the Key

The poor are dependent on market systems in various ways. Changing those market systems to work more effectively and sustainably for the poor improves their livelihoods and consequently reduce poverty.

This is so especially for rural women and youth who despite the enormous effort they put in the rural economy – particularly in agriculture have nothing much to show for it.

Promoting the rural women and youth economic empowerment is seen as one of the most important driving forces behind reducing poverty and aiding economic growth. The rural women and youth are paid less for their work and see fewer benefits of their labour. Women pursuit of economic empowerment encounters constraints in multi- levels that inhibit their active and viable participation in the market

These challenges are deeply entrenched social norms that affect women’s access to productive resources and assets, division of labour, access to training, information as well as market opportunities; gender sensitive policies that are not implemented; limited capacity of local actors to engage on gender norms and value affecting women economic empowerment, and limited capacity of women to access input, business assets and also lead successful businesses.

How we solve the Challenges

AiRD has been keen in developing and implementing projects that seek to address this constraints that tend to hinder the markets from working for women and youth. Different approaches and interventions have been implemented/are being implementing and include: Business Management trainings, financial literacy trainings, trainings on leadership and governance to have women and youth develop confidence, have the skills required for effective interaction at the market place, besides lobbying to have favorable policies. With skilled, connected and more conscious women and youth, the economies of the rural areas will never be the same again!

Lighting Homes with Africa Initiative for Rural Development

In Ndoroto village, Naivasha east lives Ann Wangui, a mother of seven children. Two of her  children are enrolled in secondary school whilst three are in primary school, all within the same location.

While education is vital, the process comes with challenges as many homes and schools lack access to electricity. Ann herself lives in a  mud thatched house.

Her husband died in 2010 and culturally, there is high expectation for her to provide for the entire household. “I want the best for my children because I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school” she says.

Enrolled In the Program

Ann is a farmer and is currently enrolled in the government cash transfer program as one of the needy households. She is a member of Atiririri CBO, AiRD’s partner that introduces affordable solar lamps to households as a measure to enable school pupils to do their homework at home and attend to their chores. In the past,  Ann used parafin lamps which was more costly. Sometimes, she and her children had to survive dark nights as long as she could put food on the table.

However now that she has a solar lamp since January, Ann has seen significant improvement in her children’s school performance because she’s able to help them revise their homeworks. One of Ann’s children, Nephat has improved his scores from C+ to B+ and he is now able to help his siblings with revision.

With affordable solar lamps, the village can light their homes and use their energy for things such as charging their mobile phones and powering small radios.

“No labour is needed to fix the solar panel and bulbs, it’s affordability is a big help and we can conveniently pay over an agreed period of time through an agreement between our CBO and AiRD” says a grateful Ann who’s also encouraging her friends in the village to consider using solar lamps.  With solar power’s potential to bring energy, AiRD will continue lighting homes all over the country.

Cooking Up a Storm at the Food Justice Festival

In May, Africa Initiative for Rural Development (AiRD) was invited by Fahamu, our partner in food sovereignty, agriculture and climate change program to participate in the Food Justice Festival in Muvuti, Machakos and in Gatundu North.

The Food Justice Festival was a way to celebrate the end of the sustainable crop care workshops that was facilitated by Fahamu for organic farmers in those areas for the past 2 months.

Odin Olaya, Sustainable Livelihood Advisor for AiRD delivered workshops on technologies for sustainable agriculture, composting, and treating drinking water using the Procter and Gamble water purifier, samples of which were given out to the participants.

Dinka Basuki, AiRD’s Communications and Social Media Strategies Advisor through her foodie workshop called Food From Farm, got the participants both men and women, young and old to cook a storm using ingredients from the farmers’ shamba such as banana hearts, sweet potato leaves and green paw paws among other ingredients that Kenyan farmers don’t usually use as food.

Some of the recipes that Food Justice Festival participants can now try at home are banana heart bhajias, green pawpaw salad, peanut chaat (peanuts mix with fresh vegetables) and stir fry sweet potato leaves.

The festival in Gatundu North saw us welcoming the Member of Parliament of Gatundu North, Hon. Francis Kigo Njenga who stopped by to give support to the organic farmers’ movement and to appreciate the local produce.

Both Food Justice Festivals in Machakos and Gatundu North were lively celebrated with food, seeds, local produce, and participants feeling grateful towards new insights, knowledge and skills that’s been shared by Africa Initiative for Rural Development (AiRD), Fahamu and other partner organizations. They also made new compatriots in the fight for food justice and sovereignty. What great way to connect with others through scrumptious food!

Gender Empowerment and Solar Lighting

At Africa Initiative for Rural Development (AiRD), we believe in gender empowerment and equality not in a sense of just verbally expressing it, but putting that belief into application, into something real.

Together with our implementing partner Technical Community Training Institute (TCTI), we have been teaching a technical course in solar light and electrical installation to both women and men, with women being highly encouraged to participate. TCTI has otherwise been offering technical skills development mainly targeted to the construction sector and which tend to attract only gentlemen, who after graduation are linked to employment opportunities locally and overseas.

Through the solar light and electrical installation course, we are teaching young women and men to be electricians so they can utilize their skills at home and at the community. Our desire is to have women having access to equal opportunities, to learn new skill sets that are commonly associated with men and to find sustainable employment.

Our objective is equally to have women step up and engage actively in addressing issues around climate change, especially in enhancing access to clean energy. Through imparting skills in solar lights development, repairs and maintenance, AiRD seeks to have a pool of women technicians who will reap in this emerging market.

AiRD also seeks to develop a solar pack that is affordable and very user friendly targeting the rural communities. We understand the economies of energy poverty and thus we strive to contribute to the addressing of the challenges associated with the move from traditional energy sources (kerosene) to renewable energy sources (solar lamps).

Solar light and electrical installation trainees are taught practical mathematics, how to use digital multimeters and soldering techniques. The women trainees are very enthusiastic in learning this new skill. We believe that when we equip one young woman with this practical skill, many more will be motivated to learn and will eventually light up the whole village. Who knows, in the near future, we might have solar lamps with mobile phone charging units made by our electricians!

Would you like to learn this interesting skill too? Come visit our AiRD office and inquire more through TCTI in Sarakasi Dome, 2nd floor in Ngara, Nairobi. We are open Mondays to Fridays from 9 AM until 5 PM. Karibuni Sana and we look forward to seeing you here.

ICT Trainees Graduates Toward a Brighter Future

In May, Kelvin Wanjau, ICT Manager of Africa Initiative for Rural Development (AiRD) traveled 445 kilometers to attend the graduation ceremony of 53 ICT training graduates in Funyala, Busia County. The ICT is in partnership with Intel Africa.

The graduation held at Queen’s Resource Centre saw 26 young women and 27 young men receive ICT certificates from Intel Africa and AiRD. They successfully participated in a 8-week ICT course called the Intel Easy Steps. The Intel ICT course has a mission to improve livelihoods through ICT skills.

Parents, community members and local elders attended the graduation ceremony; congratulating and motivating the younger generations’ achievements. Edwin Odembo, Director of the Queen’s Resource Centre, ICT Trainers, Kelvin Mbuni, Allan Ojiambo and Victor Apopo congratulated their trainees. It was also a celebratory day for the ICT trainers knowing that their trainees progress have come a long way and were recognized as ICT literates.

The ICT training was done on a one-on-one basis and were later on introduced to the Online Learning Portal with competency exam that upon passing entitle them for a certificate.

The graduation event gave hope to many of our young women and young men to start to look for job opportunities, feeling more confident and equipped with ICT skills and a certificate to prove such.

Kelvin has also conducted trainings in Embakasi, Nairobi and Meru whose trainees had graduated earlier in April 2016; more ICT and Digital Literacy trainings will be held across the country.

Keep watching this space for a training close to you!

Organic Farmers and Sustainable Crop Care