Kienyeji Store: Growing with Farmers and Women in Kenya

  • Kienyeji's
  • Kenya
  • #Employment
    #Human Rights
    #Education

Kienyeji Store: Growing with Farmers and Women in Kenya

1% $63 Achieved Achieved

D-44

Funding Target ㅣ$5,000

D-44 2024-05-31is the last day

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Impact Employment 50% Human Rights 30% Education 20%
Employment
Kienyeji's Kenya
Impact Employment Human Rights Education


CEO of Kienyeji's Store
Miriam Nabakwe

Hello! I am Miriam Nabakwe, CEO of Kienyeji's Store in Nairobi, Kenya. Kienyeji means "indigenous" in Swahili, and we sell traditional vegetables grown in rural Kenya with rural farmers and middle-aged women.

Kenya is a country in East Africa with about 50 million people. In recent decades, Kenya has achieved steady economic growth and has significantly improved the living standards of its people. Since 2000, per capita GDP has more than doubled, and more than half of the population is now middle class. Furthermore, the educational level has improved significantly, and as of 2023, 90% of the population over the age of 15 is literate.

One of the biggest reasons for the gender gap in unemployment is the lack of employment skills due to educational opportunities. Women in Kenya are often less educated than men, which means they have fewer employment skills and limited employment opportunities.

 

Rural farmers are also struggling becuase they are having difficulty finding a stable market to sell their crops. If they could not find a market, they have to throw away the corps. So, farmers focus on growing particular crops, such as corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, to minimize market risk. However, as all farmers grow the same crops, the price of crops falls, and it becomes increasingly difficult to make a living from farming alone.

I have a background in hospitality management with over 20 years of experience working as a food and beverage manager in the hotel industry. I have always been passionate about healthy eating and general wellness. For a long time, I have dreamed of opening a store that sells healthy food for Kenyans. However, when I saw rural farmers and women struggle with unemployment, I wondered how I could pursue my passion while also solving social problems.

 

What triggered me is the fact that my great-grandparents lived long, free from lifestyle diseases. I believe it was because of the food they ate. In the rural area of Kenya, it is easy to find traditional vegetables such as Kanzira (kale), Mrenda (mallow), spinach, etc. My great-grandparents always cooked with traditional vegetables. I felt why not reintroduce traditional vegetables as a solution for my generation. So, I started Kienyeji Store, a business that sells traditional vegetables with rural farmers and women.

 

The biggest challenge was to convince Kenyans, who are not very health-conscious, of the importance of healthy eating habits. I started small with some vegetables sent to me by my mother and a freezer bought with assistance from friends. My first clients were my friends and close allies. Then, in 2019, an event happened that completely changed Kienyeji Store.

It was the COVID-19. When the pandemic spread, Kienyeji's store became more relevant because more and more people wanted the right nutrition that is found in traditional vegetables. However, it is not easy to find or prepare eat traditional vegetables in the city. City dwellers do not have the knowledge or time to prepare these vegetables.

Kienyeji’s Store offers convenience to busy families in urban areas by providing pre-cooked traditional vegetables and food. We partner with rural farmers in Kenya's western region to grow traditional vegetables and purchase them from the farmers. Middle-aged women sort, wash, chop, cook, package, and freeze the vegetables. The packaged traditional vegetables are sold in Kienyeji's retail stores and restaurants. Kienyeji’s Store also offers online ordering so you can have traditional vegetables delivered to your home.

The rise of fast food culture in Kenya has led to a decline in the knowledge of how to handle traditional vegetables. This traditional knowledge has been passed down through generations, and only a few people still know it. Middle-aged women, in particular, have excellent skills in handling traditional vegetables. Kienyeji Store works with unemployed middle-aged women to help them tap into their potential and support their families. We have worked with 15 middle-aged women so far.

 

In addition, Kienyeji's Store also works with rural farmers. We educate farmers on organic farming methods so that they can grow traditional vegetables. Also, Kienyeji's Store purchases all of the traditional vegetables they grow, which ensures that farmers have a stable market. They can maintain their livelihoods.

Kienyeji Store plans to establish retail stores in various parts of Kenya to make it easier for more people to access healthy traditional vegetables and food. However, the current supply of traditional vegetables is still insufficient to meet the growing demand. To address this issue, Kienyeji Store plans to use impact donations to educate and employ more rural farmers and middle-aged women to increase the supply of traditional vegetables. It will help ensure the livelihoods of rural farmers and middle-aged women and make it possible for Kenyan families to eat healthy food anytime and anywhere.

Please support the self-reliance of rural farmers and middle-aged women in Kenya by providing more Traditional Vegetables and food through impact donations!

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    2023-07-20

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