Maragua Division, Kenya
I wanted to pass along two specific stories that illustrate the immense impact your support of the cassava project is having on the lives of my community members, especially the women.
Winnie Muthoni is a 38-year old single mother of four. For her family's daily bread, she had been fetching water on her back and selling to her neighbors. She does this no more. Being among the first to be trained on how to prepare cassava dishes through the project, Winnie has started her own business. She mills cassava and grains into flour, at the mill you helped us acquire, and with that she prepares dough nuts, chapattis and porridge. She sells these at the nearby Irigiro Shopping Centre or whenever there are ceremonies in the village. She merrily says," I have become my own employer, earning much higher income than in my previous agonizing job. My children are now assured of a better up-bringing. Being a girl-child in my father's homestead, I inherited the smallest piece of land. I am therefore saving towards renting a larger plot to grow more cassava." She thanks all those who have made her life-change possible. See photos of Winnie at the mill.
Mrs. Rachael Wanjiku is a mother of four. She owns 2 cattle that she milks and sells the milk to her neighbors. The revenue that accrues greatly assists her towards meeting her family's needs. Rachael proudly says that the cassava project has been a " double - blessing" for her. She was among the first farmers to adopt cassava growing through the project. Now, she is able to mill a part of her cassava produce into flour for her cattle feeds, at the machine that you helped us acquire. She says, " By milling my cassava into flour for feeding the cattle, I have in a big way cut down costs and improved the animals' health. The corn-based feed that I was buying earlier were much more costly and less nutritious." She grows her own cassava and mills it at the nearby milling machine, at a reduced cost. As a result, her profit has greatly increased. She adds, " Next year, I am venturing into pig rearing. I will be milling my cassava at the machine for pig feeds." She thanks all those who made her "double-blessing" happen. See photos of Rachael with her cattle.
I am happy to have been given this opportunity to make a change in my community. Thank you for helping us succeed. I look forward to seeing this project grow even more and starting other social businesses in the future.
With heartfelt gratitude,
My community continues to benefit from the purchase of the mill to grind cassava to make food staples. The enthusiasm for the project in my community continues to grow. I am happy to report on the latest news.
Our community participated in the World Food Day Celebrations by holding a public forum on cassava on 16th, October 2012 at Kigumo Divisional headquarters. During the event, hundreds were taught on the benefits of the highly nutritious and drought resistant Cassava as a food, fodder and cash crop. The community members also utilized the opportunity to sell various cassava products including doughnuts, porridge, chips, and crisps. In the photos, are people buying and enjoying cassava dishes.
I am glad to inform you that our milling operation is modeled on the concept of a social business put forth by Muhammad Yunus. We charge only Ksh. 10 per 5 Kgs instead of Ksh. 30 that the rest of the millers ask. This is to encourage consumption of cassava, as the villagers can now mill their dried cassava chips much more cheaply. This obviously encourages cassava cultivation. The little income accruing almost entirely goes into the running of the business through payment of its recurrent costs.
However, I am of the opinion that social enterprises experience some key challenges. They have to compete in the commercial market dominated by conventional businesses. This is in addition to facing the same operational challenges and risks as all other businesses. To overcome this challenge, the social enterprise should be of a relatively large size so that it can break even and manage to settle its recurrent expenditure. In Economics, this is referred to as "Economies of Scale." Social enterprises also lag behind in embracing technology. This is due to their low level of profits as opposed to what conventional businesses make. The competitors would easily manage to run more efficiently as they can utilize their comparatively large profit streams towards technological advancement and cost reduction. This kind of competition may lead to failure of social enterprises, if they are not large and mature enough. If I get an opportunity to study for a Masters in Development Economics, I will focus on the role of social enterprises and Non- Governmental Organisations in poverty alleviation and economic development. I believe very little effort has been channeled towards realizing their potential as engines of economic development.
Thank you for your belief in our social business. You are changing lives for the better.
Our cassava project continues to thrive and improve. More and more communities are becoming interested in growing cassava because of its drought resistant qualities and good nutritional value. And, in my own community the cassava crop has become a stable of the local diet. The success of the project, and its potential for contributing significantly to food security issues has drawn the attention of a number of officials and agencies, and we are pleased to be in a position of leadership in this area.
We were honored to host a government official recently. The Minister for Nairobi Metropolitan Development, Hon. Jamleck Kamau, happened to have heard me speak about cassava on Kameme FM radio. Through his P.A, he arranged for me to meet him. I later invited him to visit at a time convenient to both of us. He did this last Saturday. During his visit, he asked community members to form small groups based on their various factors, eg. youth groups. He promised to rent for them plots to grow cassavas for income generation.
As you already may know, I grew up in abject poverty. I skipped school on some days to work in nearby coffee estates to obtain the fees needed to sustain my schooling. As I grew up, I often declared to myself that my life would be dedicated to extreme poverty reduction. Formulating policies towards helping those suffering for only being born into poverty is my ultimate goal in life. This project, and its success, has been an important step toward that goal.
Please see photos of the visit and of csme being interviewed by the media about cassava and the Minister’s visit.
Many thanks to all of you for believing in our cassava project for food security. You are making a large difference in our community!
My community is extremely grateful for the purchase of the mill to grind cassava to make food staples. The income of our community has increased greatly. I am not through though. My goal is to keep working to help my community to be as prosperous as possible. It is in that vein that I relay the information below.
Dr. Joseph Kamau (a cassava expert from the Ministry of Agriculture) told the PATHWAYS scholars a story at the PATHWAYS annual meeting in 2008. It was a story of a Nigerian who came to Kenya and lacked cassava gari- Nigeria’s staple food. The Nigerian man decided to hire a small plot of land and started growing cassavas. Later, he purchased a bigger plot of land and grow more cassava. Thereafter, he started a small processing plant to add value to the cassavas that he was producing. Recently, he put up even another factory. He mainly exports cassava products to foreign markets. It is amazing that he is the only person doing that in the greater Eastern Africa region. In Dr. Kamau's words, " he is minting money."
I have always desired to expose our community to such an experience so that at least they know what the cassavas that they are growing can be processed into. When I was on a long university vacation in January, I decided to go to the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters to seek assistance. After 5 visits, I was introduced to one – Dr. Martha Sila. She is the National head of the Root – crops Division. I absolutely narrated to her the story of our project, the support of PATHWAYS, of you, the Global Giving community and our objectives. She was impressed. She agreed to sponsor us to visit the Nigerian’s factories, as I had requested. I was pushing for 100 community members to participate, but she limited the number to 60 because they wanted to see only one bus used.
The 60 participants were selected as a perfect representative of the community: women, men, youth, middle-aged and the aged. They visited last month. They went to the 2 factories. One is at Kasikeu, in the interior of Sultan Hamud and the other is at the lower end of the Makueni County. This is a 8 – hour one way journey from our area. All the expenses of the exposure tour were catered for.
The community members were very excited and motivated. They were more than elated for experiencing what they could only imagine before. Please see the photos of the trip.
Thank you for your continued support- you are changing lives for the better!
Murang'a County, Kenya
I am very excited to announce to you that we were able to purchase and install the mill to grind the cassava. The community is so happy! The building housing the mill was also renovated and electricity availed with the owner's assistance. The machine installation was completed on Friday, 17th February. The milling operation started immediately.
One of the great advantages of the mill is that the machines cannot only mill cassavas but also grains including corn. Another advantage is the reduced cost. We decided that the mill would be a social enterprise for the benefit of the community. Therefore the price charged for the milling service has been heavily subsidized. For 3kg of chopped cassavas or grains, we are charging Ksh. 10 (less than $0.10). The other millers charge Ksh. 30 for the 3kg of cassavas or grains. This is a great relief to a community wallowing in abject poverty. Plus, we are very sure that the income accruing is enough to sustain the mill and support other activities in the project.
Finally, another advantage is the reduced price for milling. Before the mill you helped us purchase was put in place, the community members would have to purchase the milling service 7 kilometres away at Sabasaba town. Now, the mill is so close! Women are particularly excited and relieved of the agony and time spent in walking the long distance. They can now attend to more chores. Beyond any shred of doubt, the mill has proved to be a great achievement in the fight for food security. We can’t thank you enough!
Please see attached the following photos.
Photo a : The building housing the mill. Remember, this is the building that appears on our GlobalGiving page. But this time, the front is painted blue.
Photo b : The 2 machines. On the right is the crusher that crushes chopped cassavas and grains. On the left, is the roller machine that finally grinds the crushed cassavas and grains into flour.
Photos c & d : The trained operator packing the flour into customers' bags.
On behalf of our community, I sincerely thank you for supporting us in acquiring a mill. Surely, this is a milestone towards achieving food security. You have surely changed many lives for the better while helping alleviate hunger!
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