No javascript detected! Our online shopping basket requires javascript. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
Return to World Ark Blog Landing

NYIGON, Kenya—On a cold, early morning in this small community, women and girls are already working on farms. Bent over and holding short hoes, they tease the hard, unyielding earth, submitting it into production. Not far from the farms, cattle graze in fenced pasture, precariously built from scraps of wood and thin lines of barbed wire to keep the wild animals out. From a distance, the landscape of the Kenyan countryside is beautiful, but up close it reveals the realities of small farmers trying to make a life by navigating the delicate balance of the productive earth. “If you don’t have a cow, you plant,” said Augustine Cheruiyot, the country program manager for Heifer International’s East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project. “If you don’t have land, you work for others,” he continued.

Bank transaction
Farmers make transactions at the Kipkaren Community Financial Services center where Jasper Lagat works.

Within this community, most of the people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Those who own land they inherited from their ancestors are considered lucky. Those who own livestock are considered luckier. Together, farmers have come together to form a group that has a shared vision of participating in the booming dairy industry that is developing around the milk chilling plant which Heifer International installed in the community as part of the East Africa Dairy Development project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008.

The Kipkaren Community Financial Services center
The Kipkaren Community Financial Services center.

They started small by collecting their milk in a small makeshift shed in a field several years ago. Then, as they increased their ability to aggregate larger volumes of milk, they obtained a loan to build a cooling tank with the capacity to hold more than 1,300 gallons of milk. Almost 900 farmers now supply milk to this facility, where all the suppliers are also shareholders. Because Heifer promotes equal participation, each farmer is given his or her own supplier number, even within the same family.

Behind the small chilling facility, a financial service association—or village bank—is under construction. In many ways it resembles a retail bank anywhere in the world. There are two counters for the tellers, an office for the manager and a vault in the back for the money.

Jasper Lagat, a young man in a dark suit becoming of a banker, runs the operations. Under his shrewd but careful leadership, the community is navigating the creation of a business in the same manner as one would broker the launch of an Initial Public Offering in a sophisticated multimillion-dollar corporation on Wall Street.

“Shareholders buy shares on a check-off system,” Lagat explained. They pay a small amount with each milk delivery. He said that within the first two to three months, no shares are deducted from the revenue of farmers, but as the site begins to turn a profit, farmers begin to receive dividends on their investments as well as better prices for their milk.

The benefits of membership extend well beyond shareholding. Members have their milk transported to the chilling plant for free, while non-members have to pay. Members also get cheaper access to healthcare within the health insurance network that has sprung up along with the myriad of services and other businesses that are developing around the chilling plant.

It is clear that Lagat is smart enough be in any investment firm in London or New York. Yet, unlike most young people in Kenya, he has chosen to stay in his community. “I want to work for the community,” Lagat said. “This is the community that educated me. I get satisfaction from serving the farmers. I am a member of the community. I am also a farmer.”

The chilling plant in Nyigon is only one of several that have been installed in the area since the project began. The East Africa Dairy Development project heralds a return in rural community development that far exceeded the expectations of the project’s design. Farm families that once produced milk at a subsistence level—just enough for home consumption—are now able to not only produce surplus but also become involved in larger formal economies. This is a manifestation of what Heifer International envisions for the families it assists.

Read the full-length version of this story in World Ark magazine.

Author

Elizabeth Bintliff

Born and raised in Cameroon, Bintfill earned a bachelor’s in International Affairs from Kennesaw State University in Georgia and has a master's in African Studies from Yale University. She is now the Vice President of Africa Programs for Heifer International, where she has worked since 2000.

Free Download

You only need to enter this information once to download digital resources.

My Basket
Need Help?

Basket Summary

edit

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }}

Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ {{ product.price | currency }} Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ FREE
{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }} Free
{{ (product.price) | currency }} You've chosen to make this a monthly donation.
Monthly

No products in cart.

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }}

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

edit

Billing Address

{{ billingAddress.first_name }} {{ billingAddress.last_name }} {{ billingAddress.address_1 }} {{ billingAddress.address_2 }} {{ billingAddress.city }}, {{ billingAddress.state }} {{ billingAddress.zip }} {{ billingAddress.country }}

Company

{{ billingAddress.company }}

Shipping Address

{{ shippingAddress.first_name }} {{ shippingAddress.last_name }} {{ shippingAddress.address_1 }} {{ shippingAddress.address_2 }} {{ shippingAddress.city }}, {{ shippingAddress.state }} {{ shippingAddress.zip }} {{ shippingAddress.country }}

Basket Summary

Step 1 of 2 Step 1 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Your basket has been updated.
The following item(s) are now sold-out or unavailable and have been removed from your cart:
-{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle}} ({{ product.quantity}})

{{ nag.title }}

{{ nag.description }}

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }} To: {{ product.giftCardRecipientName }} From: {{ product.giftCardSenderPrint }} Email: {{ product.giftCardRecipientEmail }} Delivery: {{ product.giftCardDeliveryDate }} Message: {{ product.giftCardMessage | truncate '200' }} 1 {{prods["title"]}}

{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }}
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
${{ product.price }}
$ {{ product.price }} Free
Monthly
Remove
SubTotal {{ cartSubTotal | currency }}
It's not a hand out. It's a hand up.

For maximum impact, try adding a few items to your basket.

Browse The Gift Catalog
Secured Checkout

Increase Your Impact with a Donation Visit the Gift Catalog

Make an even bigger impact with a donation from our Gift Catalog

Responsibly-Sourced, Artisan-Friendly Gifts Shop the Marketplace

Shop the Marketplace for responsibly-sourced, artisan-friendly gifts
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary Edit {{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Payment Information

Step 3 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.

Payment Summary

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }}

Pay By Credit Card
Pay with PayPal logo
Pay with
We were not able to process your request. Please try again or contact Donor Services at 855.9HUNGER (855.948.6437).
Secured Checkout