“I wasn’t looking for money or food aid,” says Kiringace Lalaur. “All I wanted was an opportunity to better our lives.”
Kiringace lives in a tiny manyatta in Barsaloi. The region is known for its inhospitable terrain that is increasingly coming to characterize the Northern parts of the country. Like many arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya, Barsaloi has been devastated by the impacts of climate change – according to a 2018 USAID report, Kenya’s average temperature has increased by 0.34 °C per decade from 1985–2015.
“There’s no grazing lands for our cattle anymore,” says Kiringace. “My husband can be gone for days in search of pasture. I remember one time when he was gone for more than a month! It was very hard on me and the children.”
Kiringace didn’t have income to feed the family or even send her children to school.
“Life was so difficult back then,” says Kiringace. “I was willing to take help in whichever form it came.”
Life changed when enumerators from The BOMA Project came to their town. Kiringace was selected along with two women from her village, Nakori Epuri and Namerian Lenanyekie to enroll in BOMA’s poverty graduation program.
Participants for BOMA’s poverty graduation program are identified through a three-pronged approach that includes community consultation, ranking via BOMA’s unique targeting tool, and baseline surveys conducted by independent enumerators.
The three women, who were the most vulnerable and needy in their community, were given seed capital of USD 300 to start up a business. After several trainings on developing business skills like marketing, record keeping and inventory management, the women started a business trading livestock. They used the seed capital to purchase goats. They set up stalls at the Barsloi, Nairimirimo, Lorekenyik, Lodokume and Lorokolomongo markets to sell their livestock.
Business picked up. Kiringace and her business group members began to make more than Ksh. 10,000 (~USD $100) a week.
“The business trainings really helped,” Kiringace said. “We learned how to negotiate with traders and customers. We learned how to manage our inventory efficiently, set customer expectations and deliver on them.”
Soon, an increasing number of people and organizations wanted to buy from the business group. The Catholic Church of Barsaloi and AMREF contacted Kiringace to supply them with goats for their special events.
“BOMA’s mentors taught us about putting away money for a rainy day,” says Kiringace. “We opened a savings account with a savings group. Today, we have Ksh 35,000 ($350) saved. We also have 9 goats in stock that we have in reserve for the future.”
After the Kenyan Government temporarily shut down livestock markets after the outbreak of COVID-19, BOMA’s mentors worked with Kiringace, Nakori and Namerian to diversify their businesses and income streams.
“We opened up a convenience store,” says Kiringace. “We sold household essentials like soaps, corn and sugar. During the holidays, there’s an increased demand for meat. So, we also opened a butchery.”
But the members of the group have greater ambitions.
“We want to own a large herd in the future,” says Kiringace. “We will soon be able to afford cows, which will make for a even more lucrative income.”
Achieving these larger ambitions will require getting connected to the broader market and availing of opportunities from financial and government institutions.
The group applied for a grant from the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Project funded by the Government of Kenya and the World Bank. They received a grant in the form of assets – 300 local improved chickens – with which they have started a chicken rearing business.
Their new residences provide a clear indicator of the group’s success. They decided to build new homes that cost 70,000 Ksh ($700 each).
“Due to our ornaments, we have been called the Butterfly tribe by our community,” says Kiringace. “That’s an apt name. Because today, it’s not just our ornaments that glitter, but also our lives.