Over 100,000 farming households in Kiambu County are set to own their businesses in a model that will involve business oriented training by students of Plymouth University UK in a bid to diversify income generating avenues for farmers.
Through a £500,000 grant to the University by Comic Relief, a charity based organization in UK, the project will see students and academicians use their expertise in social enterprise and business growth, to analyse the current set-up and aim to expand the number of franchisees, with the ultimate goal of helping around 100,000 farming households.
According to Dr Robert Newbery, associate professor in entrepreneurship and development at Plymouth University, they hoped to make a real difference to communities. “It is fantastic for us to get involved in a project that reinforces our enterprise agenda and supports our mission to transform lives across the world,” he said.
“By working with farmers and communities in Kenya, and providing them with training and education, we can help create the right climate for their businesses to thrive. “We can also generate amazing opportunities for our students to engage with a project that is having genuine impact in one of the poorest areas of the world.”
Plymouth University is the first higher education institution to receive funding from Comic Relief, and has been awarded £535,484 for the two-year project. The work will also involve Duchy College in Cornwall, whose rural business network will act as a model for supporting rural entrepreneurship.
This is welcome news to Kiambu Farmers who have scaled farming for business with various ventures that have seen it lead among the most agricultural enterprising counties countrywide. Ventures like rainwater harvesting, irrigation, commercial fish farming among others are set to make the farm shop model a success as farmers will require inputs for their many businesses.
The Farm Shop Trust was established by Farouk Jiwa and Madison Ayer, whose previous venture – Honey Care Africa – has earned global praise from the Prince of Wales Business Trust, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others.
The pair said: “We are very excited to be partnering with Plymouth University and Duchy College on this critical expansion phase of our network of rural agri-input shops in Kenya. “We look forward to leveraging the skills and capabilities across both institutions, providing opportunities for engaging a wide range of students as well as co-generating new learning and innovations. We are immensely grateful to Comic Relief for their generous support and for helping to make this possible.”