Mar 8, 2019

Happy Women's Day!

Hilda and a customer at Hidaya Diapers
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
Veronica with customer at Verics
Dec 10, 2018

Check out what Somo has been up to!

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for being a donor to our crowdfunding campaign.  Check out some updates from the last few months:

Highlights from our entrepreneurs:

  1. PurYSeth Honey has tripled their hives to 45, allowing them to cut production costs by 60%.  As well, their honey is now being used at two coffee shops in Nairobi!
  2. WaterMark Springs is launching showers, giving people a clean, private space to wash.
  3. Verics Hydroponics now has 14 small scale hydroponics farms across Kangemi and Kawangware.
  4. Hidaya Diapers is now making baby bed and baby carriers.


Entrepreneur Forum:

We had our 4th Entrepreneur Forum this past week! Read about the four teams that pitched below:

Adhi Pads: Elizabeth witnessed many girls and young women in urban low income areas miss school and other important daily activities monthly because they could not afford sanitary towels. In response, she began experimenting with making reusable sanitary towels to address this issue. Her company Adhi, produces high quality reusable sanitary pads.

Spaik Acoustics: Simon creates furniture from recycled tyres such as chairs, tables, and footrests. He was inspired after he witnessed the 2007/ 2008 election violence, where people burned tires in protest. He decided to employ idle youth to make art out of these tires instead of burning them.

Habari Kibra: Michelle and Thomas' Habari Kibra is a platform that allows youth to engage their passion for journalism. The training first teaches youths wide range of skills, from writing to photography to TV/media production, so that they will be able to reach their ambitions in an ever challenging and diversifying the industry. Once graduated these youth either will be set-up with income producing journalism jobs or join the Habari Kibra team to sell content to local media hubs in Nairobi.

Ufanisi: Derick and Johnstone created a power back-up system to tackle the challenge of frequent power blackouts in Kibera and other low income areas, providing an affordable power alternative to low income earners. Power outages are especially detrimental to businesses in these areas that often have to shut down for hours or days at a time, one Ufanisi power backup can support operations at a restaurant for an entire day.


Youth Cohort

Our Youth Cohort (sponsored by Polish Aid) finalized a couple weeks ago!  This marks 90 entrepreneurs graduating from Somo from 8 cohorts. Stay tuned to hear which entrepreneurs receive investment!


Many thanks for your support,

Amelia and the Somo team



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