The Yombra Progressive Self Help group registered as a self-help group in 2013. Its 21 members came together to establish a range of agricultural activities; the aim was to generate food and an income. It started a poultry farm, maize and sweet potato production, and ran a saving and lending scheme. But, despite their best efforts, the group was not able to meet its expectations.
Ace was asked to help – it worked. 2017 was the group’s most successful yet.
Building skills and a network
After being part of a ‘farmer’s field day’ organised by Ace and its partners, the group approached us for advice. We visited the group, reviewed its activities – its success and failures – and needs. In 2015 and 2016 Ace provided training to establish kitchen gardens, cultivate orange fleshed sweet potato (high in Vitamin A), cereal banking and different business skills. Each month Ace staff visited to see how things were going.
As well as linking the group with a government area extension officer who could offer regular support, Ace introduced the group to other NGOs who helped establish new activities:
• Heifer International helped establish a dairy goat herd
• KARI trained the group in banana cultivation and provided banana seedlings
• The Women Enterprise Fund helped with micro-finance to support the business.
The sweet colour of success
As the group’s orange fleshed sweet potato production took off, Ace provided training in the production of spin-offs. The group started to generate income by selling items made from sweet potato flour – including ‘mandazi’ (doughnuts), chapattis – and the sale of sweet potato vines. The group also shares what it has learnt, educating local communities and carrying out cooking demonstrations.
Since the middle of 2017, the group sold food products made from orange fleshed sweet potato worth KES 73,200 (GBP 522) – proof that long term, joined up support works.