Hilda and a customer at Hidaya Diapers
In honor of Women's day we want to highlight a couple of the amazing women at Somo!
Meet Hilda! Hilda raised her family of four children as a single mother in Korogocho. She started making diapers for her neighbors after struggling to afford them herself. Her diapers can save a mother over $120 per month, an amount that can cover rent of about six months in most informal settlements in Nairobi.
Lucy Akinyi Olima, a resident of Korogocho has been using Hidaya Diapers for the last 6 years. She prefers the diapers because they are long lasting. She only needs to wash and re-use. She also likes the diapers because it keeps their compound clean. Living in an informal setting waste management is a challenge. “People just dispose waste in the compound including the disposable diapers and this is a health hazard,” she says.
Before she was introduced to Hidaya diapers, Lucy would use 4 pieces of the disposable diapers each costing at least ksh. 25, disposing Kshs.100 every day. The disposable diapers also gave her babies rashes and she was constantly checking and changing them.
Meet Veronica! Veronica grew up with her brother, Eric, in an informal settlement in Nairobi called Kangemi, where they witnessed the challenge people faced in getting the fresh, clean, affordable vegetables so critical to their health and well-being. With the help of Somo, Veronica and Eric decided to set up a business using hydroponics, a farming method that uses degraded lands and reduces the amount of water – a scarce resource – that farmers need.
The business, called Verics, took off quickly, and they now have 10 small-scale hydroponic farms across informal settlements in Nairobi. They have set up systems free of charge for local farmers, and they will buy back the produce to sell to upscale green groceries and other markets.
They are growing high-value produce, such as strawberries, bok choy, and butternut squash; all these products collect hefty market prices since they are uncommon in Nairobi, giving them a competitive advantage when reselling.
In Veronica’s words, “The Somo experience has been an eye opener that has helped show us untapped market segments. Somo offers a conducive environment for a start-up to grow, allowing us as entrepreneurs to make mistakes. We value these mistakes as part of the learning process, helping us toward achieving our ultimate objectives.” For Somo, this achievement will pave the way for other farming initiatives that will bring about sustainable livelihoods and better food options for people in informal settlements in Nairobi.
Veronica with customer at Verics