This profile is part of a series that captures how Root Capital’s Gender Equity Grants are transforming the lives of rural women. Read more here.
Phyllis Nderemba is a talented macadamia nut sorter with meticulous attention to detail. Everyone in The Village Nut production unit knows her. But she hasn’t always been as independent and confident as she is now.
“When I was three years old my leg swelled and developed a wound. Throughout my primary and secondary schooling, I was walking with crutches,” she says. Finally, at the age of 18, Phyllis underwent an amputation, losing the ability to do many things in her home village in rural Kenya. For a decade she faced myriad physical, social, and financial barriers to personal development.
Then her employer, The Village Nut Company, started a savings and credit cooperative for its workers—thanks to a Gender Equity Grant (GEG) from Root Capital. Phyllis took out a loan that enabled her to buy a prosthetic foot and pay for the transport and clinic fees to ensure it was properly fitted.
“Now I’m walking, I can wash and do everything, even farming,” she says. “You can’t even notice! Also my work here at TVN is easier because I can move from one place to another.” Now Phyllis is vice chair of the savings cooperative and leader of the group’s poultry project, which is also funded through the GEG and designed to generate additional income to fund the savings group. After decades of stigma, she is now inspiring others with her leadership and commitment.
For a long time, Phyllis says, “I dreamed about being able to walk and do many things again, but didn’t think it would be possible. For sure I would not have gotten the foot any other way.”
Starting in 2016, Root Capital partnered with Value for Women to help three Kenyan businesses design projects to improve their inclusion of women and enhance workers’ quality of life. Read more about the project here.