Many could not believe she would reach her dream of a big enterprise back when she started off with 20 indigenous chickens, passion for the job and an entrepreneurial mind-set.
Four years later, Sheila Cherop is an enterprise in herself. Equally important, she is transforming lives in her West Pokot County in Kenya thanks to her collaboration with USAID Kenya Youth Employment and Skills Program (K-YES).
She is a community-level trainer who has inspired the formation of over 50 groups in her village focusing on youth development. This was after undergoing entrepreneurship training supported by K-YES Program in 2017.
With membership ranging 16 – 20 individuals and mostly youth, the groups convene meetings frequently to review progress and share experiences. Collectively the youth groups own nearly 5,000 birds – an achievement that generates income, creates opportunities for others and compliments other K-YES program interventions in the County resulting in 2,400 youth gaining new or better employment.
“It has been a long journey convincing young people to embrace agri-business.” She notes. “I had to showcase to them practically that it was a profitable venture.”
Further business skills training by the Program have also enabled the groups to diversify their income sources by investing venturing in goat rearing and fruit farming. They have also formed savings and loaning associations for convenient access and handling of credit.
Apart from dedication and hard work, Sheila reveals another secret of her success: innovation.
As her chickens grew in number, she needed materials to shield the young ones from biting cold. The cost of a modern brooder was prohibitive, so she designed a protective chamber akin to a traditional cook stove, made from locally available earthen material.
The seemingly funny idea turned to a money making venture – it helped the growth of her chicken from the initial number to 500 and was later adopted by other groups in the village.
The groups rear and sell the chickens making profits ranging between $6 to $ 7 per bird.
“They have all installed the brooder that is simple to make and maintain.” She reveals, adding that as a result; their business has experienced significant growth.
Hailing from a county largely characterized as arid with limited economic opportunities, Sheila’s determination to make an impact in her community is paying off. The County government got wind of her work and recognized her achievements by using her farm as a demonstration site to inspire others during an exhibition.