Life in rural Trans Nzoia county–the “green basket” of Kenya and home to our new Kitale office—is peaceful; it boasts an ideal climate and excellent soil. Despite these advantages, many of its residents live in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day.
Agnes Kwamboka and her family used to be included in this number. Agnes and her husband worked as day-laborers during the planting and harvesting seasons in an effort to make ends meet. At home, they barely grew enough maize on their half acre of land to feed their family.
As if life wasn’t already hard, Agnes’s sister passed away suddenly and left her two young sons in Agnes’ care. “You have to take care of family, and that is what I did.” Now raising four young boys, she struggled to keep the children fed and also keep up hope. Agnes first heard about Village Enterprise after visiting a relative in nearby Kakamega who had started a successful business after participating on our program, and prayed for a similar opportunity.
In 2014, Agnes enrolled in our program and started receiving training and mentoring from Business Mentor Imelda Midzukani. Agnes loves having someone to encourage her. “I respond really well to Imelda’s training and enjoy learning all these new business concepts. She is always positive. She laughs a lot and is a great mentor and teacher.”
Agnes and her two partners decided to start a rabbit business. Why rabbits? “Limited competition, good demand and short reproduction cycles.” The three entrepreneurs sourced local materials and built a rabbit hut at Agnes’s home. They started their business with a male and female rabbit, which quickly produced six offspring that will be ready for sale in December.
“December is the best time to sell the rabbits. . . it’s the ‘festive season’ when people will pay a premium.”
In addition to her rabbit business, Agnes has used the Village Enterprise SMART (Smarter Market Analysis Risk Tool) process to identify new crops to farm on her home plot. She has reduced her maize plantings (a low-risk/very-low-profit crop) and is now harvesting kale. “I’m excited about our future. With the new skills and knowledge I’ve acquired through training, I’m able to reinvest and expand my business.”
Before Village Enterprise, Agnes faced a life of hardship without the tools and knowledge to improve her life. With her new-found income, Agnes is able to better feed her family, pay school fees, and afford medical care.