Community based organization, Leadership Training and Integrated Development (LITD), is keen on empowering Machakos County by creating job opportunities for the youth, a readily available market for farmers and also promoting a healthy lifestyle through sunflower production, processing and management.
Launched in 2011, the organization has recently shifted its focus from acting as donors towards the community and instead have introduced a sustainable project under their sunflower production through which both them and the community are able to support themselves and generate their own income.
“Initially, we were working with communities through the donor strategy by giving out handouts, however, after every year once the handouts were over, they were not able to support themselves,” said Meshack Mutevu from LITD. He adds that, as an organization, they used to rely on donors to fund them and on days where there were no funds, they had no work to do. This prompted them to come up with a new business strategy.
Through this project, the organization has managed to employ six full time employees as well as cater for operational costs and support the community . Through this, their relationships with various donors have been able to change, in that they now have an upper hand when it comes to requesting for funds given that they have something to showcase to indicate their progress as an organization.
Aside from the six employees, the organization is also looking forward to creating more employment opportunities for the youth. “This project aims to create job opportunities for young people because the whole value chain of sunflower production, processing and managing requires a lot of manpower. Through this we will be able to engage young people by employing them directly into the production,” he says.
However, one main challenge in trying to get the youth involved in agribusiness is that most of them are reluctant to venture into agriculture because they do not find the venture interesting. Another key component that has pushed them away from agribusiness is lack of capital and access to land especially in rural areas. This is due to the fact that, most of the lands are owned by their elders and in most cases they do not want to lease it to the youth. In addition, they tend to take advantage of their services by making them work for free.
Though, this is something that LITD is looking forward to resolve through the sunflower production which they believe will create valuable returns in the end for the young people involved.
Every year, the organization partners with farmers who are interested in working with them by having them register into the organization and willingly pay a commitment fee of 50 shillings thereby creating groups and sending them their produce. They also improve their income levels by providing a readily available market for them by purchasing their end products. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is also top of their agenda. Sunflower seeds generate cholesterol free oil which is beneficial to human health.
The organization also focuses on poultry farming and training. Due to Covid-19, they had to shift from physical trainings to online sessions through their Facebook page. However, this has been quite challenging given that a good number of people within their community are not tech savvy.
Looking to save costs and expand their business, the organization approached Kenya Climate innovation Centre in order to seek facilitation to purchase their own oil press machines and avoid having to rely on other organizations.
In addition, they are also planning to set up ATM oil dispensers in markets around the community. This will save costs for their customers who are not able to afford 1litre, 5litres or even 10litres jerry can of oil.
Kenya Climate Innovation Centre has been able to help them identify and fill gaps within their capacity basement tests by ensuring that they have all the necessary information and tools for effective progress of the business.