Over the years, we’ve often said that your continued support helps ultra-poor women build resilience in the drylands of Africa.

Which brings us to the question:

Have BOMA’s woman entrepreneurs displayed resiliency after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic?

Over the last few months, my colleagues and I have conducted detailed surveys and analyses on the ground to find out the answer to this very question. As we prepare to head into Giving Tuesday Now , and come together to help those impacted by COVID-19, here are three key takeaways I want to leave you with:

1. The pandemic has struck at the heart of our participants’ businesses

The Kenyan government put in social distancing restrictions in mid-March. Livestock markets were closed. In addition, restrictions on movement meant that supplies could not get to destinations as usual. Women who run dukas or convenience stores could not stock up on items like soap, sugar, groceries or tea leaves.

The restrictions resulted in reduced income for our women entrepreneurs. In late March, many of the businesses we work with were not able to make meaningful income to support their families.

2. Women were able to adapt in meaningful ways

BOMA’s women entrepreneurs are diversifying from livestock related businesses to businesses like chicken rearing, running dukas and beading. Like astute entrepreneurs, they are diversifying their income streams. In addition, our participants are not putting as much away in savings. Instead, they are using more of the income they generate to meet household expenses – as they should during a crisis.  

3. United, they continue to stand.   While most graduation programs focus on individuals, BOMA’s approach is group-based. This aligns with traditional pastoral community values of group identity. Today, we are seeing our approach paying off.   At a business group level – made of three women running businesses jointly – we see women loan money to each other as needed. At the larger savings group levels, we find business groups making loans to those most in need. Groups with extra cash are transferring their assets to digital currency – which makes for greater financial and physical security.  

The result of all this activity? There’s increased cash flow. This cash helps attract more goods to the market, which in turn drives the proverbial virtuous business cycle and generates more income.  

Our women entrepreneurs were hit hard from this crisis and market disruptions. But they have been ingenious and flexible. They have been courageous. They have displayed problem-solving skills. 

In short, they have been resilient.  

From Kenya, I continue to follow all that’s happening in the United States and Europe with concern for your struggles, and admiration for your courage. I am also grateful that during these unprecedented times, you continue to remember and support the poorest, most vulnerable women and children in my part of the world.  

If you are able, this Giving Tuesday, please consider supporting the women entrepreneurs and the mentors that empower them – the heroes at the frontlines of the COVID-19 epidemic.


Today, you can help 195 women launch 65 more group businesses in Kenya. You can make help extremely poor women do more than survive the shock of COVID-19. You can help them feed their children, send them to school and evolve into strong and respected entrepreneurs within their communities.  

Thank You,

Sam Owilly, Kenya Program Director.