Judith and her Posho Mill
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Judith. Judith is the Chairperson of Karimi Women’s Group, one of WMI’s lending groups in northern Kenya. She is 65 and the owner of a posho mill, a convenience shop and a dairy farmer. Posho is ground cassava root flour, and serves as a staple in the Kenyan diet. All of her businesses are located in her compound at the bottom of Mt. Kenya.
With her first WMI loan, Judith bought a small mill that helps process food for her dairy cows. The mill grinds up grass and stalks in just a couple of minutes. Without the mill, this process takes interminable hours. The mill provides substantial fodder for her cows while saving her a significant amount of time. After milking her cows, she takes the milk to a cooperative to sell. In a month, she is able to make anywhere between $190 (19,000 KSH) to $260 (26,000 KSH). With the time she saved, Judith was able to open her other businesses.
In 2011 with her profits, she bought the posho mill which brings in about $50 (5,000 KSH) a month. The posho mill’s high season is July through September. During this season, she expects around 10 customers a day to come in to process around 300 kilos (661 pounds) of posho. Because she is the only one in her community with a posho mill, a nearby school came to order posho from her as well. The mill has minimal operating expenses, the most notable being grease, to make sure that the machine runs smoothly. The grease costs $4.50 and it lasts for a week during the busy season.
Her third stream of income is her shop -- a small convenience store. She said that she went to a fellow WMI borrower and shop owner, for advice before opening up. Her shop brings in about $40 (4,000 KSH) a month.
Judith and her husband run all of the businesses together, allocating the responsibilities proportionally. When he gets sick it is challenging because she is then responsible for managing everything on her own, plus cleaning, cooking and attending to her husband. We asked her what happens when both she and her husband are sick simultaneously and she said, “A woman never gets sick: even when I feel that I can’t wake up, I force myself.” Sadly, many women feel that way!
With the income from her businesses she buys stock for her store, livestock, and helped her son improve his house by helping him buy iron sheets for his roof.
We asked Judith for her advice to other women who want to start their own business:
“Own your own business rather than doing agriculture farming only. With farming, you are only able to get money every couple of months when you harvest but with your own business you have income every day.”
We are so inspired by Judith and the other hard working women of East Africa who are making a better life for themselves and their families. Won't you please consider making a donation to support these rural women who never get sick?
Judith and Moses in Their Shop