, KISII, Kenya, Sept 18 – One plus one generally equals two but for the initiators of the One Hen Campaign Project, one plus one equals four hens.
You see, how the project works is they lend one hen to a women’s or youth group to rear and receive payment in kind at the half year mark.
“Within a year, the group could get up to 100 hens but we require only two back after six months. Then we take these two, give them to two other groups and after another six months get four hens back. And they continue to multiply,” Project co-founder James Makini explained to Capital FM Business.
In that way the project founders quadruple their chicken stock in a year while getting that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from enabling mothers and their children to fend for themselves, “So far we have managed to give out more than 10,000 hens and cages,” Makini disclosed.
“Each member is supposed to register with us at a cost of Sh200 (initially it was Sh100). The cage on the other hand goes for Sh700 because we usually come with our own ‘fundi’ (carpenter) to make them, so there is cost sharing. The raw materials are sourced from the village where we are taking the hens and mostly contributed by the members. From there we train the groups for three months, before we give them the hens,” he explained.
The One Hen Campaign Project was laid in 2010 with Makini and three of his friends – Samuel Moseri, 26, Linet Ongwae, 27, and Dennis Nyasente, 25 – just out of college and jobless.
“We searched for attachment everywhere and it was hard to get, leave alone employment. So we became frustrated,” Makini recounted.
But it was exactly these circumstances that acted as an incubator to the group’s light bulb moment. “We were forced to think outside the box and that’s when it struck us that we were sitting on a golden egg. Being Kisiis we’d take a hen with us every time we visited our grandparents and it occurred to us that with a bit of tweaking, we could empower ourselves and others using this idea,” he continued.
The four buddies weren’t the only ones who thought it was a good idea and they have since won five awards for their ingenuity, the most notable being the Global award in Durban South Africa during the UN Climate Change Conference in a competition dubbed Connect4Climate sponsored by World Bank in December 2011.
“We are testament to the difference one hen can make having received just one hen each from our parents and having grown that into a Sh5 million enterprise; having started out unemployed and now having 15 on the payroll, it’s incredible,” Makini testified.
Not only has the One Hen Campaign Project grown in size but in scope through the ‘one egg a week’ saving concept; the individuals Makini and his team work with save at least Sh20 (the egg) a week with the campaign’s co-operative society – Sky Sacco Limited.
“And after three months, they can access a micro-loan up to three times their savings,” Makini explained.
The group plans on seeking out a loan of their own to finance the setting up of a chicken meat processing plant over the next three months, “We have already prepared and given out our business proposal to access the Uwezo Fund so we can continue to grow ourselves,” Makini revealed, “and as our Sacco implies, the sky is the limit.”