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A self help group in West Pokot now trading in millions

Adverse effects of climate change have posed challenges to crop farming in West Pokot and necessitated exploration of alternative income-generating activities. This necessitated honey production as a viable opportunity due to availability of diverse floral resources. Through the support of E4Impact and the European Union, Cheror has become the embodiment of a community’s collective effort to conquer poverty.

E4Impact Foundation has emerged as a force to reckon with in her unwavering determination to drive sustainable livelihoods through enterprise development support programs in Kenya. The prowess in tailored entrepreneurial curricula has enabled small and medium enterprises access knowledge as well as financial and market linkages.

Cheror Self Help Group is one of the SMEs with a captivating face amid adversity of arid lands, poverty and food insecurity. Cheror, a Pokot vernacular word which means warmth and hospitality has become the embodiment of a community’s collective effort to conquer poverty. The group has become a symbol of empowerment, radiating warmth and welcoming all who seek to embrace prosperity.

Cheror group was formed in 2014 as an initiative by the local community members to overcome poverty and food insecurity in ASAL, West Pokot County; it brought together women practising honey production and sales in Lomut Centre. Over time, more members (including men) joined the group to support each other in the beekeeping business. As at now, the group has a membership of twenty-two (22) in which thirteen (13) are women and nine (9) are male. Together, they embarked on a transformative journey that would redefine their lives and breathe life into their dreams.

Adverse effects of climate change have posed challenges to crop farming in West Pokot and necessitated exploration of alternative income-generating activities. This necessitated honey production as a viable opportunity due to availability of diverse floral resources. However, despite its inherent potential, the growth and development of the beekeeping sector has been hindered by the absence of market linkages and limited opportunities for value addition. This has created the need to establish market links and explore avenues for value addition.

Under the umbrella of the Ustahimilivu Project (funded by the European Union and implemented by E4Impact in West Pokot), Cheror Self Help Group received support in establishing a state-of-the-art honey processing unit, empowering them to engage in value addition of locally sourced honey. Moreover, the project has facilitated the formation and registration of 38 producer beekeeping groups; strategically located in various areas. These groups, comprising a total of 644 members; including 380 men, 204 women, and 60 reformed warriors actively participate in modern beekeeping activities across the lowlands of West Pokot. Through their concerted efforts, these producer groups aggregate the raw honey harvested by their members and sell it to Cheror. Acting as a vital link in the value chain, the processing unit possesses a capacity to process and accommodate up to 3 tonnes of honey per month. This thriving partnership has not only elevated the group’s status but has also become a significant source of livelihood for the community, providing them with a ready market for their harvested honey.

The synergistic collaboration between the linked producer groups and Cheror has created a mutually beneficial ecosystem. Upon aggregation, the groups sell their honey to Cheror at a farm gate price ranging from KES 250 to 300; contingent on seasonal fluctuations. This fair pricing scheme ensures equitable returns for the beekeepers, while also bolstering the sustainability and growth of the honey production sector in the area.

Recognizing the significance of quality standards in the competitive market landscape, the E4Impact Foundation, as part of the consortium, extended its solid support to Cheror Self Help Group (SHG) in obtaining Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) certification. This milestone ensured that the honey products met quality requirements, positioning them as trusted and reliable source. To further amplify the market appeal, comprehensive packaging and branding initiatives were implemented, aligning the products with the preferences of the target audience.

The acquisition of the KEBS certification proved to be a game-changer for Cheror, unlocking consistent market access and forging lucrative linkages. A recent breakthrough was achieved through a substantial sale to Roshni Distributors Limited; made possible through a linkage by E4Impact and Northern Rangelands Trust Trading (NRT Trading).  In this remarkable transaction, Cheror sold a staggering 1700 Kilograms of their processed honey, generating an impressive sales revenue of KES 1.02 Million. This monumental accomplishment marked the group’s largest sale to date, propelling Cheror into a realm of unprecedented growth and prosperity. The selling price of KES 600 per Kilo created a 20% increase in price margin. The transaction solidified the buyer’s commitment to providing consistent market opportunities in the future. This assurance reinforces Cheror’s position as a key player poised to continue its remarkable journey of empowerment and sustainable economic growth in the community.

By Dorcas Yano

Project Officer, E4Impact Foundation.

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