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Expert talk: Creating Sustainable Livelihoods

By Maureen Shileche from OLCAP

If you support a woman, you are supporting the whole family.

“That’s how it is with the women joining our livelihood programme too!”, says Maureen, director of OLCAP. “At the end of the day these businesswomen have some money and can buy food for their families.” These projects are so much important, even more because many have lost their work or source of income during the COVID-pandemic.

In summary, OLCAP’s approach includes:

  • Livelihood training in small business, pig rearing and vegetable gardening
  • We raise capital for the starting businesses. And we work with what we have, even if it’s only 5,000 ksh (or €40) per business. “Any help to people living below poverty level is better than no help, “ adds Maureen.
  • In agricultural projects we also advocate for women that seek their rights, to be able to own land, so that their business actually can become sustainable.
  • After the training we support the women to do their own market research. We have seen women diversifying their goods, to be able to attract more customers. For instance, to not only sell vegetables, but also charcoal and cooking oil. And also to think about the location, where customers actually are. For instance, they found out that doing their business near a school or hospital, would help them to sell all their goods before noon.
  • When the project participants start their businesses, OLCAP helps put with mentoring, so women can overcome challenges that appear along the way.
  • For the project of Women Greengrocers & Bakers, in January OLCAP plan to start to offer loans to the women, so they can expand their businesses. For example, one of the small business owners, want to grow her shop to a wholesome greengrocery shop.

Another strategy that OLCAP always takes is to first do a pilot with a small group of 5 women for instance. “This helped us to see the challenges women are having, what kind things they are selling, and what we can learn,” Maureen says. After a pilot OLCAP is then ready for scaling a solution to more women.

Working towards sustainability

The University of Kenya – how facilitates the business training to women – always checks on the following components, to see whether the business can become sustainable:

  1. Financial capital: Is the business able to earn a sufficient income for the business owner (and staff); as well as for savings and an insurance, to be able to overcome any unexpected events, or to do investments in the business.
  2. Social capital: It is important to have a network and supporters around you – for instance a saving group.
  3. Physical capital: For instance, livestock or equipment.
  4. Human capital: Like education, knowledge, and skills or labour.
  5. Natural capital: Includes land and water. In Kenya this is mostly owned by men.

The Women Greengrocers & Bakers project is supported by AFAS Foundation.

Learn from OLCAP’s approaches by whatching or reading their presentation below.

The online presentation of Maureen about the project, at Friday 25 November – around the International Day of Women Entrepreneurs, attracted 76 visitors on Zoom and Facebook (Live).

Expert talk: Creating Sustainable Livelihoods

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