The Nam Lolwe Cooperative is located in the rural village of Odede in Eastern Kenya, near Lake Victoria.
Most people in Odede live in extreme poverty (less than $2 per day). The area has high levels of unemployment, maternal and child mortality rates, and malnutrition and common diseases.
The Nam Lolwe Cooperative is a local group made up of community members who come together to participate in different projects together as a way of collectively improving their livelihoods. World Youth International works in partnership with the Cooperative to support them in designing and implementing their projects, all of which are community led and managed.
These projects are supported by B1G1, a valued and long-term supporter of World Youth International.
These projects include:
Happy Goats Project
This project consists of 36 members (mostly women) who each receive several goats to look after at their homes. The women care for the goats and gradually breed more, which provides their family with milk and grows their herd which they can sell at the local markets. The women also give every second kid born back to the Cooperative, so the Co-op can also generate income as an organisation and gradually become self-sustainable.
We work with women through this program because evidence shows that investing in women leads to significant social change for whole communities. When a woman earns an income, she puts at least 90% of it back into her family and community. Women are usually poorer and much more vulnerable than men, however if a woman earns money then her children are more likely to be healthy and educated. By investing in women to start their own micro enterprises through goat breeding, we are helping them to earn more income for themselves and their families, which will benefit the whole community.
The Maize Farm is a group project that almost 80 Co-op members are a part of. Together, they farm a small plot of land which produces maize (the staple food in Kenya) for members and their families. This increases food security for whole families, and creates a project that the Cooperative members can proudly take ownership of.
World Youth has partnered with the Cooperative to fund the infrastructure costs for this project, which then requires contributing members to make their own small investment into the maize farm. In this way, we have given the community members a hand-up to begin their venture and grow their own food for years to come, rather than simply providing a 'hand-out' of food, which is neither sustainable nor empowering.
World Youth has partnered with the Cooperative to support them in kick-starting a Microfinance program for its members.
The Cooperative told WYI that it wanted to be able to provide its members with micro loans (very small amounts of money) so they could start tiny businesses or other projects, with the flexibility to be able to pay back the loan later. The members borrow small sums of money from the Co-op, which they then pay back with 10% interest, which allows the Co-op to gain a small income and continue to recycle the funds as more loans to other members.
This project has been very successful in its pilot stage, with more than 90% of loans being repaid in full, and many members using the loans to start micro businesses, such as selling fish at the local markets. Most of the borrowers are women, so when they use the loans to generate more income for themselves, this benefits whole families and the wider community.