Sunday, October 21, 2012

Micro-Enterprise Chickens!

The EAC has always believed in building community-led programs that are financially sustainable.  This is definitely easier said than done.  For the past 4 years, EAC staff, administrators, and board members have been creating and revising a strategic plan that pushes our programs continually towards financial sustainability.  This plan has shifted and changed as we have tried something and succeed, or more importantly, tried one way and failed.  But we have been continually moving forward.

One of the programs we are most proud of it our health work.  The team of 30 Community Health Workers, in partnership with the government of Kenya, work on a volunteer basis and have been instrumental in collecting community health data, and spreading health messages door to door.  The EAC offers them technical support, and a space to meet.  Our three paid health staff are a part of this group, and assist the group when others have to be at work.  Having three paid staff in this group is instrumental in the group’s success.  These three staff also teach health education in 4 local schools to Class 4 and 5, reach with over 20 community groups on a monthly basis with economic empowerment strategies and health education, and teach health education classes to polytechnic students, out of school youth, and secondary school students.

For the past few years, the EAC has been raising money to cover the salaries of these three staff members, as well as the water bill and the security for the site.  We started to develop a way that we could invest in small, low-effort businesses, that our health staff could run, that would bring in some income to cover some of these operating expenses.  When Peace Corps volunteer Jill Daniels arrived in September, I tasked the her and the health department with developing some business ideas that we could easily implement in the space we have available and at a low cost. 

They had many ideas (some of which might be started at a later date) but the best one was to turn the old volunteer kitchen mud hut into a house for chickens.  We used a little bit of money to fix up the house and fence in a small yard for the chickens, and a little bit more money to buy the 25 chicks.  Some of these chickens will be ready to sell in time for Christmas, some will hopefully be laying eggs for sale and also so that we continually increase our chicken population.   We aren’t sure how much we are going to be making yet, but we spent about $100 to start the chicken coop, and will sell each chicken for about $5.  It sounds like a long way to a profit, but if we become known as a place where there are always chickens available, we should be able to sell as many as we can produce on our property.  We are excited to see this micro-enterprise for development progress and happy to be further along the trail of financial sustainability!  Thanks to Jill Daniels and the health team for all their hard work, and to gardener Katana Karisa for helping out with the fence building.