In 2019, 20 young couples in Rombo Ward, Kajiado County, Kenya, resolved to pool their resources to support each other in settling their unpaid bride price. Three years down the line, the group, named Success Self-Help Group, has evolved into a savings and loans association as well as a source of income for the members.
When the group first started, the youth sought to address their limited financial ability to cater for the traditional practice of visiting in-laws and paying bride price. Each couple would contribute KES 3,500 ($ 28) bringing the total amount collected to KES 70,000. They would then give one couple KES 50,000 ($ 407) in cash and contribute an additional KES 20,000 ($ 163) for the purchase of food and drinks for the traditional ceremony. The group did this three times a year, aiding the couples who were ready to conduct the ceremony in honour of their tradition.
In 2021, the 2SCALE-Neighbourhood Freshmart Ltd (NFL) partnership conducted a series of sensitization sessions for the youth on seedling propagation in the region, to promote their inclusivity in the vegetable value chain. The viability of the business was driven by the high demand for vegetable seedlings from farmers all year round and setting up a seedling propagation unit only requires barely an eighth-hectare piece of land. It was a business the youth could engage in despite the challenge of access to sizable farmland. For this activity, the partnership identified potential youth groups, and among them was Success.
Exploring new ventures as a group
The group resolved to try their hand at seedling propagation in order to transform their lives. They leveraged the training opportunities availed by 2SCALE on seedling propagation, seeking to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to improve their chances of success in the venture.
We value education and recognize its importance in advancing one’s livelihood. Learning a new skill was a great opportunity for us and we did not waste any time in grabbing it,
Shadrach Mwania, the group’s chairman explains.
On top of training, Success was supported with the necessary equipment to start their propagation business. This included a greenhouse, 150 seedling trays, seeds, and coco peat medium. Their determination also attracted the support of other NGOs and they were able to set up a second greenhouse.
As a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), they set aside some of their savings to use in these activities. CropCare, the partnership’s Business Service Support (BSS) provider, supported the group with further technical knowledge as they engaged in their propagation activities. The BSS also linked them to buyers for the seedlings they produced. Shadrach shares,
As a group, we keep a separate account for savings that cater for our propagation business. We saved up Ksh. 50,000 ($ 408) to buy 20,000 tomato seeds to propagate. Over 10 farmers bought the seedlings at KES 4.5 ($ 0.037) each. We reinvested the profit and bought a second batch of 20,000 seeds. Most of our buyers purchase the seedlings in bulk, buying around 10,000 each.
The high quality of their seedlings has promoted their produce beyond Kajiado’s borders. Apart from buyers within their region, Success has been selling their propagated seedlings to farmers in Taita Taveta County. During the Rombo Farmers’ Cooperative Field Day in March 2022, the groups’ work in propagation of quality seedlings was recognized. Through this, they were able to attract more buyers.
In August 2022, Success used proceeds from their sales to enhance their propagation capacity by improving their greenhouse. They invested in the construction of stands to create more space to place additional seedling trays. They intend to build more as their business grows. When they started propagation, they used to fetch water using containers so as to water the trays. This was tedious and time-consuming. Now, they have installed water tank pipes that supply water directly to the greenhouse.
Additionally, they have been able to explore the production of seedlings for a variety of vegetables, including onion, cabbage and capsicum, which are usually in high demand.