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.
“Before,” says sorghum farmer Sylveria Nkui, “we used to sell our produce on the road and didn’t have a sure market. [Now] our produce is no longer rained on. If today Shalem was supposed to come for the produce and they are not able to come, we can keep our crops inside and sleep here with our things. This is a small town; even with no watchmen, we feel safe.”
That’s because Shalem Investments—a woman-led sorghum aggregator in Meru, Kenya—built a centralized crop collection center for farmers like Sylveria, using a Gender Equity Grant (GEG) from Root Capital.
Sylveria is not only benefitting from the new collection center, but is chair of the all-female committee overseeing it. “In fact I am the one who requested this [center] be built!” she says. Now she supervises use of the facilities by 35 different local farmer groups. In the year since it was constructed, the center has helped reduce farmers’ risks and ensured they have a ready, honest buyer. Where producers used to sell their sorghum crop for anywhere between 5 and 25 Kenyan shillings per kilo, they now have a contract guaranteeing Shalem will purchase their produce at a minimum of 30 shillings per kilo. For Sylveria, the extra income—along with small loans now offered to Shalem producers as part of the GEG—has helped her, a single mother, pay school fees for her five children.
In addition to leading the collection center effort, Sylveria was an enthusiastic participant in Shalem’s GEG-funded trainings. Through these workshops, both women and men have been able to develop new skills related to finance, nutrition, leadership, and sustainable agriculture.
Sylveria’s leadership found new expression in the activities funded by the GEG. “I am teaching others not to fear trying new things,” she reflects. “They may say ‘That is too challenging, what if there is drought?’ But where others see the road is tough, that’s where I am stepping in.”
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.