After a year of work, the literal and metaphorical harvest of the NABIO Greenhouse is just around the corner!

In just two weeks, the first 5 tonnes of tomatoes should be ready for harvest – 42 kilos for each of our 120 square meters of greenhouse!

“Hidden capabilities and strength”

If we were to consider the checklist of what predicts success, these 20 women would not end up as the target of strategic investment. They are all widows, most of them illiterate and with little or no education. But as one of our team members, Karen Mataiko, said quite eloquently, this does not reflect their true abilities, determination, and resourcefulness.

These women have hidden capabilities and strength! 

They are the real definition of the strength of a woman. To them, life gives no quarters, spares no feelings, limits no pain and puts no ceiling on happiness.

Their struggles are not because they lack the will and drive to overcome them, but because they find themselves stuck in a life of abject poverty and slaves to an unchanging culture.

– Karen Matiko, a NABIO project volunteer from the local community

An idea form the community

We strongly believe that the only contribution the international community can provide must come through listening to and working with the local communities – local ideas, control, ownership, and coordination. Read more in this article.

The idea itself and all of its components came from open discussions with the group itself as they reached out to get help with setting up a business.

We were only able to form it by combining the best of the groups experiences and wishes, which helped us see how our diverse teams knowledge and networks could contribute. Our volunteers come from Kenya, Norway, and the UK.

Becoming experts

Two times every month, the group has been trained by a an expert agronomist.

In a short amount of time, they have become experts – on pruning, fertilisation, top dressing, pests and disease, trellising, and drip maintenance.

A buyer in Nairobi

The greenhouse produces over 5 tons of tomatoes each harvest, and we have got a contract with a Nairobi-based firm that will buy the entire crop.

Local markets can an uncertain and demanding place to sell at. Buyers, prices, and competition varies depending on the day. Working with a buyer with links to supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants in the capital means that the women can focus on their work without concern that they will be able to sell their products.

We have also got an insurance, so that neither drought or disease could obstruct their incomes.

Dreaming of scale

All our projects are built to be self-sustainable over time, owned by the locals, and not dependent on consistent donations. But we also want them all to have the potential to scale.

Each harvest, the group has committed to paying a share back to NABIO to cover the cost of the greenhouse and its operations.

We set aside every penny of this reinvestment so that we can help other groups do exactly the same. Already, groups from nearby villages have seen what is possible – and are asking to get the same opportunity.

We have seen that it works, and our dream is to be able to provide any group that contacts us with the same package of funding, training, support, and market contract.

Our team is currently working to create a comprehensive report of our pilot so that we can apply for funding or collaborate with another organisation to more rapidly reach our goal.

Our news feeds are too often filled with pessimistic and victimising stories from groups like these, but these women have proved that their marginalisation and poverty is not a reflection of their resourcefulness.

If you enjoyed reading about this group, we would love to see the story shared in your social media!