How An Army of Women Entrepreneurs Is Forging Change in the Drylands of Africa
An overwhelming proportion of the people in the drylands of Africa are pastoralists. They buy and sell cattle to make a living. However, climate change has made the traditional pursuit of livelihoods impossible. Due to increased desertification, men can be gone for months upon months in pursuit of pasture. Women are left alone with their children dependent on aid.
The BOMA Project provides women with access to markets, capital and two years training to evolve into entrepreneurs and forge a path out of extreme poverty.
From a 2018 Longevity Study, here are some incredible facts about how women are transforming the lives of entire families and communities in the drylands of Africa.
BOMA’s entrepreneurs grow their business by an average of 157%.
Buke Galgallo: (Solar) Charging Her Life and Business.
“I am a single mother. I became pregnant before marriage. I was ostracized by my community. BOMA taught me to run a livestock business. When the livestock markets were closed after COVID-19, BOMA’s mentors taught me about diversification.
I purchased a solar panel with my savings and started a business charging cell phones. Business has really flourished. My family has begun to visit me. They say they are proud that I am not dependent on anyone.”
Only a few years ago, women weren’t allowed to start businesses in their communities. Today, over 40% of the traders at a livestock market are women — many of whom employ men!
BOMA’s women entrepreneurs educate their children and keep them healthy
98% of BOMA’s entrepreneurs report that no child goes to bed without an evening meal.
Meet Little Naisherua
What does your name mean? My name means “beautiful.”
How old are you? 6 years old.
What do you like to do for fun? I love playing with my mother’s goats.
Where do you go to school? Louwa primary school
What’s your favorite subject? Math.
What are your favorite dishes? Millet and sweet potatoes.
Do you help your mother with her business? Yes! I love counting goats. I also help count small currency.
BOMA’s women entrepreneurs report a 154% increase in annual school expenditure for both boys and girls
BOMA’s entrepreneurs grow into leaders within their communities
64% give business advice to other women, and 68% report that they are confident in public speaking.
Agnes Lekupe: When it comes to business, women are better than men
“I helped my savings group meet the required 5% contribution for a project funded by the Kenyan Government and the World Bank. We received 120 goats in the form of assets. We’re turning around inventory rapidly. Business has flourished.
But I’m not surprised. When it comes to business, women are better than men. We know how to be flexible. We know how to negotiate. My group has elected me as a leader.
Today, I know what it is to be a leader. My decisions matter. My views make a difference.”
Today, BOMA’s entrepreneurs are even joining local government councils and helping shape climate policies that lead to a greener and more sustainable planet.
Pamela Lonolngenjen, Mother, Entrepreneur and Climate Activist
I was always being arrested by forest officials for the possession of charcoal, firewood and plants for medicinal purposes. My life has changed after I have become a member of the Naramat Community Forest Association. I have received training in conservation and management activities like tree planting and wetland management.
I have started farming and have planted beans, maize and vegetables for both consumption and selling. I will play an active role in spreading the word about sustainability, and protecting this land that is our home.
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Women Supporting Women: BOMA’s Board Members
“BOMA has been at the forefront of climate justice; supporting vulnerable communities and particularly, women who are disproportionately impacted by climate change. As a board member and a black woman from Kenya, I have a seat at the table to lend my voice in decisions that allocate resources to help impoverished women in my country. These women gain access to capital and as a result, opportunities to build small businesses that are meaningful and impactful to their families and communities.”
Patricia Campbell, Executive Vice President (Retired), Tufts University
“I joined BOMA to help women and children in Kenya because I believe in the power of the kind of help provided by BOMA – giving women the tools to take care of their families. I believe that nothing helps the health and well-being of a family more than the ability to provide a stable source of shelter and food through one’s own enterprise.”
“I joined BOMA because I strongly believe that raising women out of poverty raises the standards of all of society. As a Board member I provide advice on planning, program and measurement, and information technology.”
Allyson Souza, Strategic Partner Manager, Google
“I joined BOMA because of the proven impact their model has on empowering women and children. They are setting the standard of excellence in the poverty graduation space and are leveraging local mentorship to do it. I help BOMA by raising awareness around their graduation model and driving fundraising efforts to support the ongoing empowerment of women and children in areas highly impacted by climate change and poverty.”
I joined BOMA because of its mission and its commitment to data driven decision making. I also have a strong connection to Kenya through my time working and living there. I help BOMA by offering guidance and support to the organization, particularly around monitoring and evaluation.”
“It is humbling to be a part of an organization that empowers women to feed and educate themselves and their children with learning skills that are replicable and have a multi-generational impact.”