BOMA is adapting quickly to enable women entrepreneurs in an age of social distancing


The last few weeks have been difficult, as every day seems to bring with it a new development, and a new layer of uncertainty. I hope you and your family are staying safe in these unprecedented times. Even as we struggle to adjust to the new normal, I want to thank our healthcare professionals, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, utility personnel, and restaurant workers who are going above and beyond to strengthen our communities.

COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives in a profound way. People in marginalized communities are especially impacted. Pandemics can wreak havoc on the lives of the most vulnerable people with limited financial resources, and little to no access to healthcare.

Social distancing has had a profound impact on the lives of our program participants.  Women in pastoral families cannot receive in-person training from our mentors. They are unable to trade livestock and goods in village markets.  Their ability to raise income for their children and families is greatly impacted, even as food prices continue to skyrocket across Northern Kenya.

At the BOMA Project, we are rapidly adapting to provide timely support to our program participants. Today, I wanted to write in to tell you about three important ways we are helping our women entrepreneurs adapt to this new reality: 

1. Designing targeted interventions

From health to the economy, and security to social protection, girls and women are especially impacted by COVID-19. We are conducting a rapid assessment and market survey to collect information on where help is needed the most. We will receive assessment results this week and begin targeted interventions immediately after.

2. Leveraging digital technologies

Our mentors cannot visit program participants due to social distancing restrictions. We are rapidly leveraging digital technologies to provide mentoring. Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technologies allows businesswomen to receive helpful training content on their feature phones at relevant moments in time. We are also exploring ways to use SMS technologies to train mentors on the fly.

3. Designing for economic recovery

The last few months have literally been life changing. We cannot go back to how we were before the COVID-19 pandemic. To this end, we are actively partnering with stakeholders to design solutions for the immediate effects of COVID-19 today, but also the longer term effects on the communites we work in once this pandemic is over.  

How can you help?

You can help by making a donation to support woman entrepreneurs in the short and long term.

  • Give $25 and help purchase face mask sets for 8 mentors working at the frontlines of the crisis.
  • $100 – Help purchase a monthly supply of hand sanitizers for 20 BOMA staff members.
  • $300 – Sponsor all of the startup costs for one business operated by three women.
  •  $1200 – Help 3 women start their own businesses and graduate themselves and their families (18 people total) out of extreme poverty. 

The Ugandan singer Bobi Wine recently said in his song, Coronavirus Alert: The bad news is that everyone is a potential victim/But the good news is that everyone is a potential solution. 

As I see our staff adapt quickly, and carry out life-saving work with the support of generous donors and supporters like yourself, these words have made a deep impression on me. Even as we hunker down in our homes, we can come together from across the world and make a difference. 

I hope you and yours are keeping safe and healthy. We are immensely grateful for your support and for your continued willingness to be a part of the solution.

Best wishes, 

John Stephens,

Executive Director, The BOMA Project