Women group grows grains business into regional outfit

Women group grows grains business into regional outfit

Members of Cheptarit Star Women group in Mosoriot sort beans outside their store in Mosoriot before packaging. PHOTO | POOL What started as a merry-go-round to tackle socio-economic challenges among a group of women in Nandi has turned into a giant enterprise which has transformed livelihoods.

When members of the Cheptarit Star Women group in Mosoriot pulled resources together, contributing Sh2,000 monthly to invest in the cultivation of beans and trade in the produce as an alternative source of income to maize, little did they know that their determination would see them conquer the regional market.

Five years down the line, the investment is proving a life-changer to the 15 members of the group after they tapped emerging business opportunities to expand to the East Africa Community (EAC) markets.

“Land and other properties like livestock are owned by men as the heads of the house, limiting women on how to succeed as entrepreneurs. Under such circumstances, we had to plot how to eliminate restrictions on women’s participation to start their own enterprises to attain economic growth,” said Irene Samoei, the group leader.

Initially, the women contributed Sh2,000 each totaling Sh30,000 which they used as start-up capital to cultivate beans alongside other food crops for subsistence and commercial purposes.

“The idea was to create a platform to mobilise women and provide opportunities to start their own businesses and access the market at competitive rates,” explained Ms Samoei adding that after two harvest seasons they had enough maize and beans stocks to seek tender to supply the produce to learning institutions.

“We won our first tender to supply grains to two schools in Nandi which comprised 40 bags of maize and 20 bags of beans,” disclosed Ms Samoei.

The deal boosted their working capital to Sh600,000, more than enough to enable them to secure another tender to supply the cereals to 10 schools in Uasin Gishu in 2016 under a school feeding programme. They later expanded their supplies to Kisii and Nyamira counties in 2018 under a similar scheme.

The group’s major turning point was when the East Africa Grains Council offered to train members on market information and the value of operating as a company under one shop.

“We had to hire experts who guided us on how to register as a company to facilitate the expansion of our market share but finances to meet increased orders from our clients remained the main challenge,” disclosed Ms Josephine Bungei, the […]

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