For many graduates, their aspiration after leaving school is to secure jobs as they move into the next chapter on their lives. This was the desire for Caroline Jepngétich who graduated from Eldoret Polytechnic with a Diploma in Business Administration. However , her next chapter changed course and instead transitioned into starting a family. The result with this, was that she had to shelve her career to focus on her young family. In the process, she was introduced to Enelerai Women's' Co-operative which is within her locality. It comprises of thirty three women groups with a membership which has grown to have over one thousand women since 2013.Caroline recalls that' Immediately she learnt about Enelerai women's group, she was sold to the idea of volunteering her administrative skills to the co-operative.
Over time, she learnt the ins and outs of how to run the cooperative's administrative tasks and on the importance of creating strategic business units within the cooperative for additional income for the members. To help the Cooperative achieve this, The Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative in partnership with SNV which has been working with cooperatives along the basin, saw the need to support these women to come up with alternative revenue streams. They were trained on how to make multi-nutrition blocks for their dairy cows to help them increase milk production. The farmers increased production of both milk and making of the multi-nutrition blocks. However, they lacked sales expertise on how to sell the blocks to non-members since the blocks are relatively new in the market and would be competing with other popular brands at the agro-vet stores.
Caroline Jepngétich after attending a training session on business management at Mara Training Center.
Having mastered administrative roles and responsibilities at the cooperative, Caroline volunteered again to assist in sales of the multi-nutrition blocks. Her proposal was that she was to leverage on the weekly livestock market where she would sit by the gate and sell the blocks to traders. The proceeds from these sales are re-invested into making more blocks, which has been the case, since the demand has been growing owing to use of proper rations of ingredients used to make the blocks.
Caroline buying raw materials for making multi-nutrient blocks
Caroline however confesses that it has not been an easy journey for the cooperative "the main challenge we encountered was getting quality ingredients for making the blocks, most importantly, the molasses in the market was adulterated, since it had water, making it difficult to make the blocks and it would compromise the quality of the blocks.'' To address this, she traveled to Chemelil sugar company in Western Kenya to place an order for molasses which the team was sure would not be contaminated. This helped the group to increase production.
Monitoring progress of the drying multi-nutrient blocks.
Caroline's resilience and that of the other members has also motivated the SNV team to go a step further and train the women on how to make dairy meal. The cooperative now makes the dairy meal at a production of between Ksh 40-50 per kilogram and sells between Ksh 50 - 60 depending on the market supply and demand. she adds " We have just scratched the surface with these initiatives. I look forward to the day that we will be value adding on the milk produce by making yogurt and even cheese. The sky is no limit for us."
Despite these initiatives being very young in the cooperative, they are indicative of the support that the Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water Initiative with other implementing partners are undertaking to economically and sustainably empower communities along the Mara Basin for their own benefit and that of future generations.