Stabilizing my Income

Umeme women group is composed of ten members’ from the local communities in West Kisumu. The group has been in operation for over three years engaging in table banking, other community level development programs and welfare. As Carbon Zero was implementing its environmental projects in the area it noticed this group and due to high level of commitment shown by members CZK thought of working with the group to empower it more, like they always say hard work pays. So when CKZ secured funding from the Australian High Commission to does a cook stove project in the area it couldn’t think twice – the women group was brought on board.
CZK stove staff trained the women on artisanal stove production and marketing a skill that was seen to be men oriented. Due to the high level of commitment among the women they acquired the skill fast enough and in a short while they began producing stoves on their own.
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After production of about 1000 energy efficient cook stoves CZK trained the women on marketing and simple financial management skills to run the project effectively and keep good financial records for their use. This made a big difference as the women became proactive in marketing the stoves and keeping the revenues received as a result for their livelihood and expansion of their work.
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Through daily marketing of the cook stoves the women have been able to understand what other cook stove artisans are doing ,their market strategies ,their weaknesses so as to have a competitive advantage over other competitors who also want a piece of the same market.
Loice; is one of the members of the group and having taken time to understand her life before she joined this project she was jobless – just a house wife. Her ability to contribute savings to the group was low as she depended on her husband (who is also jobless) for everything. But after joining the group she says that she feels empowered and her life has changed to some extent. With a smile she says the little money she has received from the sales of stove she has been able to put together and started another small business cooking and selling chips; a business that she does together with her husband. The business has enabled her provide basic needs for her family. She also mentions that from the business she is able to pay fees for her school going children.
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Above all she says that the skills she acquired in stove production, marketing and financial management have been so helpful to her and she thanks Carbon Zero and Australian High Commission for the huge immeasurable support. She says she now able to use the skills she acquired to sustain her life.
Moving forward she says that she would like to expand her business to increase her income with a goal ensuring her kids access quality education. Looking at the rest of the members in the group they are equally not left behind, all of them have started small ventures to enhance their incomes. Even as a group the women have increased their contributions and savings and have started offering loans with small interest to members to expand their individual business.
In regard to the community the women say that most of their fellow women who acquired the stoves are very happy since they spend less wood and emit less smoke while cooking. In has then led to less time spent in forest looking for fuel hence women are able to engage in other activities i.e. farming, women groups activities and maintaining their homes hence making their lives better. The women also mention that their kitchens are now habitable while cooking with reduced smoke; this in a way has reduced the levels of coughing among their children.
Putting all these into consideration the project has had immense impacts to the group, their families and beyond.

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