29 Jul Cheptarit women
Cheptarit limited company is a group of women in Mosoriot Nandi County who have defied the cultural barriers and progressed from being a merry-go-round in 2009 to a fully-fledged company in 2016. The company is made up of two groups – Highway Women’s group and Cheptarit Women’s group who were working separately but realized that as individual groups they had no financial muscle. It is from this realization that they came together to share resources so as to meet the demand of supplying maize to their clients in schools, hospitals, millers and the government (National Cereals and Produce Board). Their journey began as a women’s self-help group who joined hands to do table banking and buy household items for each other. From this interaction, they realized that they were all farmers and could come together to trade their farm produce.
Despite the fact that they had the capacity to trade, the group faced many challenges such as cultural barriers which prohibited women from owning any kind of property or even having bank accounts. Apart from that, the group lacked the financial capacity to finance their tenders. At first, the women acting as co-guarantors to each other decided to apply for a loan from KWFT Bank who gave each woman 50,000 Kenya shillings. Despite having KWFT as their financier, the loan came with its own share of challenges such as delayed disbursement of the loan from the bank which limited the frequency with which they could trade. It was during one of their capacity building sessions with SNV that they were introduced to Open Book Trading who, after several engagements, agreed to come on board and provide financial support.
The Open Book Trading concept allows them to access working capital pre-financing in conjunction with Umati Capital. OBT has improved their purchasing power as access to working capital allowed them to pay farmers cash on the bag which gave them an upper hand over their competitors. This exposure catapulted the group to trade 2,852 bags in 2015 alone with a business turnover of 10,679,000 Kenyan shillings ($106,790). The business projects have increase by 25% in 2016, which is estimated to be around 26,697,500 Ksh ($266,970). At the same time through the online system, they are able to keep intensive records, which act as a portfolio that they can use to access more finance from other providers. Open Book Trading also provides them with business development support where they journey with them to ensure the quality and quantity of their produce. They also brought in experts such as Scope Insight who have profiled them to establish their general performance, ensure continued monitoring and evaluation, and maintain high performance standards.
In spite of the great support that the group has received from Open Book Trading and other likeminded organizations, the group faces numerous challenges, such as delayed payments from buyers which reduces their capacity to trade. The group has also incurred huge losses from buying from random farmers who deliver low quality produce. Group dynamics can be a big challenge where some members want to be paid in order to participate in the capacity building activities. The group, however, has put measures to mitigate these challenges. The group remains very popular in Mosoriot trading center which has seen them attract new members every day. The group believes that with their new identity as a limited company they will be able to access more capital to allow them to accelerate their growth, which includes establishing an up-to-date warehouse system and new value addition projects such as milling, packaging and end product processing to maximize profits.
29th July 2016: Wangechi Kuria