Category Archives: Profile

Moses – Head of Data Collection for our rangers

Moses Lorewa is Head of Data Collection as part of the 85 Wildlife Works rangers that patrol our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project in southeastern Kenya.

He is the eldest child in a pastoral family of seven children, from central Kenya. Upon finishing school in 2004, Moses worked in construction for a few years to make ends meet but knew this wasn’t his calling. He first came to the Tsavo ecosystem in 2007 to work as a scout for Southern Cross Eco Safaris who ran Gala Rock Camp, an old lodge within the Wildlife Works project area. Although Moses didn’t have any experience of working in the bush, he had grown up surrounded by livestock so he had the mind for working with animals.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-32-39-pmMeet Moses!

Through his job at Gala, Moses gained extensive knowledge of the land and wildlife within the Wildlife Works project area, and even worked alongside some of our rangers, as he used to be part of the anti-poaching patrolling team. A few years later, in 2010, Wildlife Works was expanding our ranger team – Moses jumped at the opportunity.

Today, Moses is Head of Data Collection for the ranger team. Within each of our seven ranger camps across the project area, one ranger is responsible for collecting data every day on the wildlife, the land and any incidents within their designated zone. It is Moses job to collect and collate all the data at the end of every month and pass along the information to the Wildlife Works Biodiversity Team. This data includes information such as elephants, lions or birds seen, poaching snares found, or incidences of deforestation for charcoal production.

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-1-33-08-pmHere is Moses on the job, helping out at a community event

Moses says one of his favorite parts of his job is working together with the community, although this is also one of the most challenging aspects. He says that getting to the level of understanding about the importance of animals and trees and how to benefit from them takes a long time. An essential element of being a Wildlife Works ranger is to create awareness within local communities, but not create animosity. Moses comments that, “it’s challenging to create awareness and also sympathize about why people need to poach or produce charcoal. These people might be my neighbors and could go behind my back.”

It is thanks to the hard work of our rangers like Moses that Wildlife Works is able to protect the forests and wildlife of our project area.

Moses was one of the rangers present on the fateful date that our team was attacked by armed poachers. When we sat down to speak with him about his role at Wildlife Works, Moses recounted his memory of the incident which he had actually just written about in his personal diary.

Nearly five years ago, poachers opened fire on our unarmed conservation rangers who were patrolling Rucking Wildlife Sanctuary killing one and critically injuring another.

Moses recalls, “it was a time when poaching was really high, and Somalis were killing lots of elephants here. My team was out in the bush and we came across two footprints in the dirt, and tracked them from morning till 4 pm. We were really tired so stopped to take a break.”

Moses said things happened very quickly. “We heard gunshots. I found myself on the ground. Are we shot, I thought? I was really confused.” The Wildlife Works ranger team had tracked the poachers so well that they’d come across them very unexpectedly and they’d opened fire.

Luckily, our team had Kenya Wildlife Service rangers with them at the time – they are armed and authorised to shoot in situations like this – who fired at the poachers to scare them away. 

Two of our men were shot that day; Moses was the third man in line, so feels like he was saved. He said this experience, very early on in his time at Wildlife Works, made him emotionally invested in his job here. “Working with armed poachers needs a lot of courage.”

Since this incident, Wildlife Works has reviewed and revised how our rangers track poachers, ensuring that the safety of our men and women is put first. It it due to their heroic commitment that we are able to keep the wildlife safe from the threats of poaching. 

Read more about this incident here. 

Meet Alfred, Master Tailor and Leader

At Wildlife Works, job creation is central to our success as a community. The Wildlife Works eco factory is one of our larger departments here at the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project, with more than 60 current employees. In such a large group, we love to set aside the time to realize some of the very special individuals we are lucky to have on our team.

fairtradefashionMeet Alfred

Alfred Karisa works as a machinist on the skilled tailor team that produces for our high-end clients such as LaLesso and Raven and Lily. Before joining us in 2012, Alfred worked for a private firm as a tailor. He brings several years of experience to our team, including studying dressmaking and tailoring. Alfred is 26, unmarried, and is responsible and disciplined. Brought up from humble backgrounds, Alfred and his three siblings were raised by a single mother. As a result of his steady income through working for Wildlife Works, Alfred has been able to help fund his younger sister through school at Laikipia University.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-04-06-pmAlfred is one of Wildlife Works’ skilled tailors at our eco factory in Kenya

In addition to being one of our skilled tailors, Alfred is also the President of our Fair Trade USA Committee (read our one year anniversary story of being Fair Trade USA certified here). His personality, along with his ability to get along with just about everyone, was responsible for his election to president of the Fair Trade Committee – everyone trusts him. In this role, he represents the rest of the employee body in matters relating to Fair Trade and also organizes and facilitates meetings of the committee.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-4-04-14-pmAlfred is the President of the Wildlife Works Fair Trade USA Committee

We sat down with Alfred as he recalled his experience with Wildlife Works. “Wildlife Works has greatly helped the community, in the construction of schools, giving bursaries to students, building water tanks, and creating jobs,” says Alfred. He is proud to hold a position within his community that allows him to make positive change for his friends and family, coworkers and neighbors. “I feel empowered by working here, and am empowered to help my family and community,” continues Alfred. We hope the eco factory here at Wildlife Works continues to inspire and empower Alfred and the community for many years to come.

 

About Wildlife Works Carbon: 

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

 

Allan, The Screenprinter

At the core of Wildlife Works’ conservation strategy is job creation for people in wildlife-rich areas. In Kenya, at our Kasigau REDD+ project, we finance the development of several business operations, such as an eco-factory and the production of sustainable charcoal. In 2010, Wildlife Works started a screen-printing facility. In the beginning, this facility was in a single room, outside Wildlife Works’ premises, with four workers. Six years later, our screen-printing facility has developed into a renowned facility doing big orders for global clients, such as GlobeIn, Threads for Thought and Greater Good.

hand screen printing Meet Allan

Allan Kiplimo is one of our screen-printing assistants. He comes from the Nandi hills, in western Kenya. Allan was brought up by a single parent, his mother, together with four siblings. In his early years, he farmed in Nandi, but in search of greener pastures and better work he moved to southeastern Kenya and managed to secure a job at Wildlife Works in 2012. He had no printing skills when he joined but as time went by he learnt the skills through observation and training from his colleagues.

Today, Allan helps out with all sorts of roles around the factory, including testing the first lay of screen till they are perfect and ready for production and maintaining the screens throughout the process to ensure sustained quality.

hand screen printing Allan at work in the Wildlife Works’ screen printing factory

hand screen printing Allan is hardworking and an intelligent young man filled with energy and positivity about life. Since he joined Wildlife Works, he has saved money from his income and now owns a dairy farm in his home county, Nandi, where he employs someone to look after his business while he is away working. Allan also assists in paying school fees for his younger siblings, one of whom has finished his diploma, two of whom are in secondary school, and the youngest is still in primary school.

Despite Allan’s main challenge being that it is hard for him to manage his business due to distance, he is at the place in life he has always wanted to be – helping people and putting a smile on their faces. Allan has big plans for his future; he wants to one day be self-employed, grow his dairy business and be able to create more employment for others.

Thank you Allan for all your hard work, it’s been great to watch you grow and we know your future will be bright!

Fair Trade USA Certification – One Year On

The Wildlife Works’ factory, on the edge of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, became Fair Trade USA certified in the spring of 2015. We were the first carbon neutral, fair trade factory in Africa! Now, just over a year later, we have been producing Fair Trade USA certified garments for clients around the world, such as Threads for Thought.

Our factory was founded in 2001 on ethical and fair trade policies – back before the fashion industry even had the words to describe sustainable fashion. Buying ethically made clothing is a meaningful way to vote with your dollar for a healthier planet and happier people. Buying Fair Trade USA certified is a way to transparently track the supply chain of your clothes. Our factory in Kenya produces quality made garments that support the local rural population and protect wildlife and trees.

One of the most significant benefits of producing Fair Trade USA that makes a real impact on workers lives is the Fair Trade USA ‘premium’. The premium is 1%-10% of the manufactured price of a garment that the client pays directly into a factory worker’s fund. A democratically elected committee of workers, who collectively decide how to use the money, manages this fund.

Fair Trade USAA meeting of the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee of factory employees to discuss Fair Trade USA matters

Thanks to the vision of our fashion clients and the commitment of their buyers, this money helps to further local empowerment and economic development and has made a big impact on the lives of our workers in rural Kenya. Our workers have used their Fair Trade USA premium money (which to date is a total of around $130 per employee) for things such as paying off school fees for their children, growing or starting small side enterprises and improving their living standards to have luxuries such as electricity and running water.

Read some of the inspiring stories of our fair trade workers here.

fair trade usaElipina
Elipina Wakio is a helper in our factory. Elipina is a single parent and has two children in primary school. With nearly half of this money, she bought six bags of cement to plaster the floor of her house that was previously just a dirt floor. The rest went to clearing her children’s school fees and purchasing new school uniforms for them, clearing her water bill and buying food. “Fair Trade USA orders give me the morale to put more perfection and energy into my work bearing in mind that I will benefit financially at the end of it,” Elipina commented.

Fair Trade USAFestus
Festus Mutua, a sewing machine operator, started working with Wildlife Works in 2011. He is married and has four children, three of whom are already married and one who is in high school. Festus spent his Fair Trade premium money on clearing school fees for his youngest son and boosting his wife’s local boutique business. With the rest of the money he purchased two female goats in order to start a small goat milk business on the side to supplement his income from working in the Wildlife Works’ factory. “I’m so happy being part of Fair Trade USA and I’m grateful to the financial support that I’m benefiting from,” he says.

Fair Trade USAHalima
Halima Chaka is a sewing machine operator who started working with us in 2011. She has six children who are all still in school. Nearly three-quarters of her Fair Trade premium has gone to opening a business in the local village where she sells vegetables, clothes, food, and household goods. With her remaining money, Halima cleared school fees for all of her children. “I’m so grateful for the financial support I have got from Fair Trade USA and it is my wish that these orders come in more frequently!” She added.

Fair Trade USAElipina
Elipina Sezi is a machinist who started working with us in 2012, married and has two children who are both in school. Elipina is a hardworking woman. With her Fair Trade USA money, she has renovated her home bringing to it modern standards of living such as adding electricity and water plumbing. She wishes to have more orders from Fair Trade as it helps her to continue home improvements for her family.

Community
With the last Fair Trade USA order, the Wildlife Works’ Fair Trade USA Committee voted to divide the premium money between themselves and community projects. 75% went equally between the employees and the remaining 25% is earmarked to buy new school uniforms for two local primary schools in the Wildlife Works’ project area – Marasyi and Itinyi. Alfred Karisa, President of the Fair Trade USA Committee, commented, “I want to say thank you to the concerned people who are Fair Trade USA customers. This gives everyone in the factory extra income but also helps us raise the standards of living for our community. Our only wish is that more people chose Fair Trade USA.”

Wildlife Works Scholarship Recipient Joins the Team

“I get satisfaction in my job through putting perfection into my work,” says Zanira Kasyoka, one of the lucky recipients of a Wildlife Works’ scholarship that fully sponsored her secondary education. Her talents and hard work stood out and she is now fully employed as an assistant in the Wildlife Works’ carbon-neutral, eco-factory office.

zaniraMeet Zanira, first a scholarship recipient now an employee

Zanira comes from a humble background in the village of Itinyi, Taita Taveta County, within our project area in Kenya. She was brought up by a single mother together with her elder sister. She now lives with her mother and grandmother, as her sister has married and moved out. Zanira finished secondary school in 2011, at Bura Girls National School and scored a grade B- in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education.

After finishing school, Zanira was very grateful for the support from Wildlife Works and so she decided to apply to work as a contract laborer with us to show her appreciation and gain experience. She worked under a short-term contract in the greenhouse and as an office assistant where she worked very hard, and her sincerity and commitment shone through. After nearly two years, Wildlife Works was able to offer her a full-time job as an assistant in the eco-factory office in 2014. Zanira says she is very grateful and owes all her knowledge to Daniel, our factory manager, and Vicky, our factory office manager, who have mentored her from the beginning. Today, she helps out with processing orders, packaging clothes for shipment, shipping finished goods to our customers and bookkeeping.

zaniraZanira now works for our eco-factory. One of her responsibilities is to help with packaging clothes for shipment. Here, she’s packing an order for our client Globein. 

Ever since she joined Wildlife Works, her family life has never been the same again. Even at only 24 years old, Zanira is now the breadwinner in her family and she provides food and clothing for her mother and grandmother. Despite her main challenge of lack of school fees, she still has hopes and future plans that she will join university and pursue nursing.

zaniraEven though Zanira loves her job, she dreams of continuing her education further down the line

Zanira is one of more than 3,200 local students who have been awarded over $260,000 in education scholarships since 2004. This funding comes through distributing the profit made from selling carbon credits and is one of the ways in which Wildlife Works supports the local community, by realizing the value of the natural world and making the wildlife work for people.

Wildlife Works Head Ranger Eric Sagwe

Eric Sagwe grew up in a town within our Kasigau Corridor project in Kenya called Maungu. As a teenager, he used to see the Wildlife Works rangers working in the community and out in the bush. Their commitment to protecting and being surrounded by wildlife and forests impressed young Eric and he began to dream of one day also wearing the Wildlife Works uniform.

wildlife ranger, kenya, Tsavo East National Park, anti-poachingHead Ranger Eric has been with Wildlife Works over 10 years.

With hard work, discipline and his late father’s urging, Eric made his dream come true. Today, Eric proudly holds the position of Head Ranger, leading a team of 120 at Wildlife Works Kenya. It took him 10 years to work his way up through the ranks after initially being hired as a watchman.

Having interviewed for a ranger position at Wildlife Works, Eric was disappointed to be offered a job as a watchman for the buildings around the office. It was under the advice of his father, a Kenyan police officer, – “don’t be choosey about what you want to do, what matters is how you do it” – that Eric accepted this first position.

True to his father’s counsel, Eric worked hard and after only four months of being a watchman he was called for another interview and offered his first ranger job. He was finally able to work in and patrol the bush, still the favorite part of his job.

Since then Eric has dedicated himself to protecting the 500,000 acres of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project. He is constantly pushing for progress like offering to operate the first security cameras and setting up a communication center to coordinate and disseminate information from all the field rangers.

kenya, wildlife rangerEric and some of his rangers [photo by Peter Z. Jones]

Eric manages a robust, effective program. His ranger patrols are strengthened by armed Kenyan Wildlife Service rangers who provide protection against armed poachers. There is enhanced close cooperation with the local community including a network of informants. He also organizes specialty training programs for his team such as first aid and drill practices.

kenya, wildlife rangerWildlife Works Rangers on a mission

Eric has lead many successful anti-poaching missions in the last few years, which have resulted in several arrests, including one where he and his rangers tracked a poacher for 23 km! Incidents of wildlife poaching have gone down significantly over Wildlife Works lifespan and there are signs that the main perpetrators of elephant poaching in the area have been apprehended. Also, the patrolling ranger teams have been systematically removing wire snares from the bush and now go weeks, sometimes a month, without coming across any. Just the other week they rescued a young buffalo that was trapped in a snare.

Eric is a commanding force (it helps that he is about 6.5 feet tall!) who cares deeply about the environment and wildlife in Kasigau. Watch Eric tell his story himself:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.21.16 PM

Wildlife Works – Eric, Head Ranger. Rukinga Sanctuary from Wildlife Works on Vimeo.

Scholarship Student Dreams of Medical School

“The greatest danger facing modern society today is not of dying without achieving your dreams but dying without dreaming at all.” This is the motto by which Sophia Tsenge lives. Sophia comes from a humble background in a family of seven, in Sasenyi Village in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, and is one of Wildlife Works education bursary beneficiaries.

One of the core ways in which Wildlife Works supports local development is through distributing the profit made from carbon credits back into conservation project’s communities we serve. Much of the funding programs go towards supporting community groups who submit needs proposals for committee approval.

Another major funding funnel is our education sponsorships. Since 2004, more than 3,200 local students have been awarded over $260,000 in education scholarships, helping to give opportunities to a generation of rural students in our project area.

kenya education, communitySophia Tsenge, Wildlife Works education bursary beneficiary

Sophia is one of these lucky ones. When Sophia’s parents divorced seven years ago and her grandmother took responsibility for the children. Living in a grassy, thatched house with mud floors and a lack of beds, affording the next family meal was sometimes a challenge.

That, however, was not a barrier for Sophia in pursuing her education and the right to education became a strong pillar in her life. “Attending school came with a lot of difficulties. My grandmother had no money to pay for the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) funds but I would still come to school without having paid any fees,” she says.

kenya education, communitySophia outside her old primary school in Sasenyi

Despite all the difficulties, Sophia worked hard and managed to score high marks in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exam. This earned her an opportunity to join Voi Secondary School, a provincial school in the county which only accepts high scoring students.

At this stage, money became a major problem and her grandmother sold a bull in order to pay for her boarding requirements and fees. In Form One, Sophia would be sent home three times a month to collect school fees.

But her perseverance paid off. As a result of her good grades in Form Two, Sophia’s biology teacher connected her to the Wildlife Works Sponsorship Program. She was accepted into the program and Wildlife Works paid her school debts and 100% of her fees up to Form Four. She worked as hard as she could and scored a grade of B- in her Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exam.

Now Sophia is dreaming of her future; she is aiming to join Mt. Kenya University to pursue clinical medicine in September this year. “In ten years time, I would like to be working to help sick people. I would also like to mentor others on how they can achieve in life, especially girls,” Sophia says.

Sophia has a big heart and she wants to not only help the sick but also her community. As she waits to join university, she is teaching at her old primary school and inspiring the students to work hard despite their challenging circumstances.

kenya education, communitySophia in class teaching

She adds, “I thank Wildlife Works for their firm support and urge to embrace education. If it were not for them I could not have managed to go to secondary school.”

The Wildlife Works community is happy to have supported Sophia in her education and wishes her all the best in her future endeavors.

 

* * * * * * * * *

About Wildlife Works Carbon: 

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Violet: Weaving Herself a More Sustainable Future

A good life is like weaving; energy is created in the tension. The struggle, each pull and tug builds on the next to create the perfect basket. Weaving baskets is a tradition in native Taita culture, a tribe of people living in the hills in South Eastern Kenya. Violet Simba is part of the Basket Weaver Women Group in Jora, a village in the shadow of Mount Kasigau that is within the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area. Violet is one of 30 weavers in the Jora group who have turned to weaving Sisal baskets in order to be less dependent on subsistence agriculture.

kenya, enterprising women, women's groups, Violet Simba, a traditional basket weaver in Jura, Kenya

Jora Women Basket Weaver Group is one of 26 local craft organizations that are represented by Hadithi Craft Support Community Based Organization (CBO). Hadithi helps to financially empower about 500 local women through making connections to external markets, building capacity and improving product quality of local craft groups. Wildlife Works supports Hadithi by providing facilities and logistical assistance. This work helps to conserve threatened forests, home to elephants and cheetahs, by providing an alternative income to slash and burn agriculture and poaching of valuable wildlife.

kenya, enterprising women, women's groups, basket weavingViolet, a widow with eight children and a grandmother to 11, farmed maize all her life. Working the land became increasingly difficult for her, in an already challenging semi-arid climate, as she grew older and without the support of her husband. In 2010, she abandoned farming and began weaving baskets. She learnt the art of weaving from the chairlady of the Jora Basket Weaver Women Group, Hilda Mghami who runs teaching sessions in the village.

kenya, enterprising women, women's groups, basket weaving Violet has been weaving as her main source of income since 2010

Since joining the weaving group, Violet has made more than 800 baskets using traditional techniques. She uses white sisal as her raw material, then adds in colors obtained from natural sources, such as charcoal, tree leaves, and black or red soil, as well as commercial dye colors.

“The colors that I love weaving the most are red and green, they make me feel good and give me motivation,” she says. In order to create her colors, Violet boils water and dye and then dips the white sisal into the mixture. The colored sisal is left to dry for a few minutes and then she starts weaving. It takes her five days to weave a big basket, three days to weave a medium basket and one day to weave a small basket.

Violet is now 65 years old and basket weaving is her main source of income. She uses the money she gets to pay school fees and buy clothes for her youngest child who is enrolled in a youth polytechnic school, a technical institution that is cheaper than regular secondary school in Kenya. This son is the only child of hers who she has been able to fund beyond primary school.

The Jora Basket Weaver Women Group meets once a week on Thursdays. Violet loves this community. During the weekly meeting the women chat about how to improve their weaving, share problems relating to their age and discuss their future plans.

Violet’s main challenge is that with her age and after decades of backbreaking farming, she experiences chest problems while weaving. Also, she and her fellow weavers struggle with not having a constant market for their baskets. Despite these challenges Violet has future plans, she hopes basket weaving will take her into her old age. “My wish is for God to grand me more healthy days on Earth. I’m thankful to the support Wildlife Works are giving us,” she added.

kenya, enterprising women, women's groups, basket weavingViolet and some of her fellow weavers dance together at a meeting of the Jura Women Basket Weaver Group

George of the Jungle: Growing our Tree Seedling and Agriculture Business

“If you put me in an office, it will be the end of me!” is the first thing George Thumbi tells us on a tour of his life.

George, a father of three from Central Kenya, was brought up in a family of 10 children on a farm that grew coffee, maize, fruit and other plants. It was here that he developed an interest in agriculture which led him to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Agroforesty at Egerton University, Kenya, among other qualifications such as a Diploma in Sales and Marketing and Business Management.

Wildlife Works Greenhouse, sustainable farming, kenya, forest conservation, plant a tree

George, who is now in charge of the agribusiness and forestry program at Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya where he started working in 2014, has come a long way before earning this title. Since 1993, he has worked in flower and vegetable farms across Africa, including Ethiopia, South Africa, and Tanzania.

When he first heard about Wildlife Works, George was highly motivated to join a company that has the best interest of the ecosystem and environmental conservation at heart. In previous jobs, he held the record for using the least chemicals when practicing ‘integrated pest management’ – a method of growing organically until it is necessary to intervene to save a crop.

Wildlife Works Greenhouse, sustainable farming, kenya, forest conservation, plant a tree

The greenhouse is George’s domain: a special surrounding where tree seedlings, vegetables, and flowers are grown, enclosed with a black net to keep out big insects and surrounded by chili plants to deter wild animals such as elephants and buffalos. At the greenhouse, they are also spraying the crops with natural bug repellant plants such as marigold, chili and ginger to keep insects at bay.

Wildlife Works Greenhouse, sustainable farming, kenya, forest conservation, plant a tree                   Marigold planted in between amaranth green veggies

George has initiated many innovative projects during his time at Wildlife Works, including multi-story  to utilize space and save water, a rabbit project to use urine as an organic fertilizer, teaching local school groups and programs in the local communities of Mackinnon Road and Bungule where he has been mentoring people to build their own greenhouse and grow using multi-story farming.

Wildlife Works Greenhouse, sustainable farming, kenya, forest conservation, plant a treeGeorge teaching students from a local secondary school to help ignite a love of nature

”My greatest achievement is that I have been able to empower the community to conserve our environment through offering them free training on agricultural techniques, as an alternative to poaching and charcoal production,” he says. George has magnificent future plans and he would like to introduce widespread raising of rabbits, poultry egg production, beekeeping and to increase the presence and teaching in the community – all projects aimed at casting a wider net of influence and equipping more local people with sustainable livelihoods.

Wildlife Works Greenhouse, sustainable farming, kenya, forest conservation, plant a treeGeorge setting up drip irrigation with his colleagues.

George is proud of the work he has done at Wildlife Works. “My favorite part of my job is planting tree seedlings and seeing them grow, it is very satisfying,” he adds.

Enterprising Women Empower Change

Tumaini Environmental Women’s Group’s Founder Mama Mercy Drive Change in Her Community

Women’s groups provide essential and powerful support systems for the poorest communities in developing counties. By supporting these organizations in the communities we serve, Wildlife Works has seen tremendous growth in the financial and general health of these communities.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works

The Tumaini Environmental Women’s Group and its founder Mama Mercy is a shining example of how women can drive change. In the village of Itinyi, Mercy Ngaruiya, known as Mama Mercy in the community, has been helping women in her community out of the cycle of poverty for decades. She is known as one of the community’s most enterprising women! Because of this, we have hosted her to speak at conservation events all around the world to represent the voice of her community.

mama Mercy Wildlife WorksBefore starting Tumaini, there were almost no trees in this area.

After leaving the management of another women’s group for which she was a founding member, Mama Mercy started Tumaini in 2011 with the goal to restore the landscape and give women other forms of income that supported the environment. With the help of Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Mama Mercy received a donation of seedlings and was sent on a two-week training program. Along with her years of experience leading women, Mama Mercy came back revitalized and equipped to set up Tumaini (“we hope” in Swahili) Environmental Women’s Group for success!

mama Mercy Wildlife Works

Today, one of the groups’ income activities is selling indigenous seedlings that the women propagated to Wildlife Works. Wildlife Works then looks after the seedlings in the greenhouse until they are large enough to survive a dry season, at which point they are given out to the community to be planted.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

The women also work together to find non-governmental organizations to fund women who have specific and urgent needs. For example, a widow in the community needed a home, so the group was able to secure funding from Camp Kenya to find her one.

Tumaini also participates in tabletop banking (similar to Chamas and Merry-Go-Round banking) where members pool in their own money to offer individual members loans with interest paid back to the lenders. This community-based loan system has been growing in popularity, many times over bank-sponsored micro-loans. Mercy had learned about tabletop banking through World Vision, who had sent her to community training sessions. Mercy decided to start tabletop banking within the group, after seeking a loan herself, which she found to be much more accessible than going to a bank.

For example, in order to obtain a 40,000 Kenya Shilling loan (USD400), from the bank in Voi, the nearest town 30 kilometers away, she was told her that she would need someone to co-sign for her. The round-trip cost to Voi for her and another person would be 1,000 Kenyan Shillings, or USD10. And, she would have to pay the bank 12% interest. She could not afford these fees, and neither could other women in need of loans. Pooling money amongst the community and paying themselves 10% interest seemed like a much better option.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

Initially, the women were hesitant to borrow money for fear that they would not be able to repay it. Mercy encouraged the women to borrow, because the group relied on interest to make a profit. Fast-forward five years, women want to borrow increasingly more money and the group now lends as much as it has available.

At the December 2015 meeting, the co-op received repayment for loans in the amount of $2,440.15. The women are using the loans to pay for their children’s school fees, to buy groceries, and to fund their small businesses. They have bought seedlings for their gardens, chickens to produce eggs to sell, provisions for small grocery stores, and materials for making baskets and crafts.

wildlife works table banking

In 2015, each co-op member contributed approximately $26.40, or $2.20 per month. From that amount, two dollars funds co-op lending and 20 cents is allocated for insurance.  If someone from the co-op passes away, the insurance covers their outstanding loan and the financial burden does not fall on the family.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

All group members receive the same dividend once a year.  During their meeting in December, the co-op distributed $1,500 in dividends.  Each woman received $50, or a net profit of $23.60, 91 percent of their initial investment. They also received staples to prepare Christmas meals, such as five kilograms of flour, rice, and sugar, and five liters of oil, all bought from the co-op profits.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

Tumaini Women’s Environmental Group limits their number of members to 30 but the demand to join is higher so they have trained 18 other groups on how to start tabletop banking.

Because of Mama Mercy’s leadership, vision and dedication, so many more women in her community now have more resources to build brighter futures!

Watch her tell her story here:

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About Wildlife Works Carbon:

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.