Wednesday, January 20, 2010

RISE; a social enterprise in Kenya

A social enterprise operation received a profile in Kenya's Daily Nation.

The business employs women who stitch together small hand bags that are now sold around the world. The money raised from selling the bags have not only given the women a steady paycheck, but has also helped to start other projects that improve the lives of Kenyans.

Daily Nation writer Sam Kiplagat profiles RISE or Regional Institute for Social EnterpRise.

The CDs measure no more than four inches. The decorated bags are eventually shipped to markets in Europe, the United States and Japan. The discs fetch just about Sh30 apiece. But this translates to some Sh450,000 a week for the groups.

For the weavers across the dusty villages of Migwani, pay comes via the paying points in trading centres or through electronic M-Pesa and Zap. Groups in the aloe industry are equally buoyed financially, making about Sh60,000 every week. Result? The once hopeless villagers are smiling all the way to markets and shops. Children are going to school and deaths from Aids have gone down due to better nutrition.

A local organisation known as Regional Institute for Social EnterpRise (Rise) through Mr Philip Mwangangi, says from a situation where people earned nothing, nearly Sh2 million is earned by ordinary villagers each month. He said: “We are training farmers in nursery management, grafting and water harvesting for irrigation. About 400 group-based farmers have been targeted for the first phase. Fruit tree nurseries are already in place,” he said.

Other areas Rise has targeted, according to Mr Mwangangi, include greenhouse horticulture and agro-forestry. He says five pilot greenhouses have been planned for growing tomatoes by selected community organisations. The agro-forestry endeavour is visible in the tree nurseries tended by each of the 19 organisations, and tree planting is taking place on Kwa Mutotya Hill in Nzauni Location that has been rendered bare by illegal loggers and charcoal burners.

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