After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Titoo Lenkolos,  Karadina Lengolos, and Mercy Lekolo decided to diversify their income streams.

Before COVID-19, the women traded livestock to make a living. They were able to take advantage of the nearby Lekuru and Kisima markets, which are among the largest livestock markets in Northern Kenya.

However, the Kenyan government ordered a temporary closure of livestock markets following the outbreak of COVID-19. The markets reopened earlier this month, and businesses resumed as usual. But the group members collectively decided to pivot to a new business, so as not to be overly reliant on one income stream.

The group sold some of the sheep from their livestock and purchased a second hand sewing machine at a cost of Ksh. 10,000 (USD $93). Today, they operate the sewing business in their village. During market days, they carry their sewing machine to the nearby Lekuru market.

BOMA women entrepreneurs open up a business selling masks for COVID-19

The tailoring business has served as a secondary business and allowed them to generate income for their families. With the start of COVID-19 pandemic and the enforcement of the virus preventive measures, the group took advantage of the demand for masks. They started sewing masks and selling them to villagers at the local market, which enabled them to further boost their savings. They also donated masks to the elderly people in their village.

The members of the group credit BOMA’s mentors for empowering them with business skills and confidence to evolve into successful entrepreneurs. BOMA’s mentors provide training on business skills such as record keeping, inventory management and marketing, and life skills such as women’s rights, the importance of educating children and family planning.

In addition to the sewing business, the group has also cultivated a small farm and planted maize and beans. This business has prospered to the abundance of rains in 2020.

The performance of the  business group is a testament to how BOMA’s poverty graduation approach does more than help women generate income – it helps women tap into their native resilience and withstand shocks as profound as COVID-19.

“I am happy that God gave me a chance to be in BOMA.” Mercy Lekolo