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#WomenEmpowerment: Marsabit group empowering locals through entrepreneurship skills

 Naomi Llabalang’a during the installation of their first jiko kisasa in Ngurnit (Courtesy)

Marsabit County based Naserian Group managed to think outside the box to transform their economic status as well as that of their home town Ngurnit. After a training session in their locality, the 16 member group was formed adopting a Savings for Transformation (S4T) model.

The Saving for Transformation model allows members to save money, borrow from themselves and finance their operations and welfare.

S4T’s is member-owned and comprises of a small number; they accumulate savings and ensure access to loans. The model allows for mwmbers to strengthen their livelihoods opportunities and increase cash flow within the region.

As a group, Naserian wanted to achieve more than just a “Chama” that lent each other money. They were also looking for diverse ways to generate income to transform their community.

A conversation with Lavender Ondere, a technical specialist on Natural Resource Management for the Integrated Management of Natural Resources for Resilience in the ASALs (IMARA) programme enlightened them on the resources they had at their disposal and how they could tap into them.

“A partner we had did a soil assessment of the area and informed us that the soil in Ngurnit was very good for modelling and that is how the idea of making cooking stoves was coined,” revealed Lavender.

The conversation then gave birth to the improved cook stoves making business using resources that were available to the Naserian group members - a welcome financial relief to them. Among the various technologies introduced in the cooking methods realm, jikos are the most common, both in urban and rural areas. These stoves occupy a central place in the health, environmental, economic and social domains of life.

The members were inspired by the desire to help the community move from the traditional three-stone cooking to either Kenya Ceramic Jikos or the improved cook stoves, also known as jiko kisasa. The group was trained and equipped with skills to install the improved jikos and converted the skills into a business model. As they continue to improve their skillset, they will be able to transfer their knowledge in jiko making to other interested parties in the region.

“When we started making the jikos, we were surprised that everything we needed was at our disposal and we shared with community members that the kiln is a good thing for us,” explained Naomi Llabalang’a, the group’s secretary. The S4T members have received support from the community elders, and through this, they were able to get a piece of land which they turned into their workshop. Through unity of purpose, the group makes at least 20 jiko liners daily, but they also hope to employ other members of their community as the business and demand expands.

The team has managed to fence their work area, set up a water tank and built a kiln. As a pioneer project, it provides them with a wider market for expansion in the country. 

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