Youth In Their Own Words: Farmer and Entrepreneur Mary Wacera
TechnoServe helps young people in the developing world access the information, capital, and markets they need to overcome tremendous obstacles and create their own economic opportunities. Today we are sharing the story of Mary Wacera, a 30-year-old entrepreneur from central Kenya who created her own successful agribusiness after participating in a TechnoServe program.
Editor’s Note: In Africa, 70% of youth live in rural areas, where jobs are scarce and training opportunities are limited. Youth unemployment and underemployment can hinder economic growth and lead to political and social unrest.
In 2011, TechnoServe and the Mastercard Foundation partnered to help rural youth in East Africa transition to economic independence through the Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program. Over eight years, the program equipped more than 68,000 youth with life skills and technical skills that allowed them to start and grow new ventures.
Mary Wacera is a 30-year-old mother, farmer, and entrepreneur from Ndaragwa, Kenya — a small town four hours outside Nairobi. Mary joined the STRYDE program in 2015. This post is the lightly edited transcript of a recorded interview with her.
My life started when I finished secondary school and got a job as a matron in one of the private secondary schools in Ndaragwa. I worked there for four years. Later, due to financial problems, school management closed the school.
Life became hard for me. I got married and became a housewife. Around March 2015, my husband bought two goats. I was planning on keeping them for some time and then selling them. Many people here keep goats, but not as a business.
Then, in May 2015, a friend came to visit me and introduced me to the STRYDE program. I started attending the classes, but I was not that serious. In the first session, we learned about self-awareness. That’s the time I learned about my personality type and traits. I started minimizing my weaknesses and maximizing my strengths. My husband was the first person who realized that I had changed so much after joining STRYDE. He told me he was happy that I was attending the training.
We also learned about saving, and now I manage to save almost $2 per day. All this I have achieved because of the STRYDE program, which has given me enough knowledge and skills.”
— Mary Wacera
Later, we learned about savings plans and entrepreneurship. Through STRYDE, we learned how to start a small business and grow it slowly over time. Our trainer told us to write down our goals and work toward our vision. That’s when I started putting in more effort and started adding more goats — one after the other.
Not only did I raise goats, but I also got a cow, which I bought during the STRYDE training. It cost me $250. I had $187 in savings, and my husband added the rest after seeing my passion for livestock farming.
To me, I’m passionate about goats because I realized that goat milk is the second-best milk for the children. So many people need [milk], and I saw that I could find my niche market. During the training, we wrote business plans and eventually had a business plan competition. I wrote my plan for goat milk yogurt. I won the competition and earned $187!
I’m living a happy family life and supporting my husband with house expenses. I’m looking forward to buying a piece of land where I can do good goat farming and other agribusinesses.”
— Mary Wacera
Right now, I’m rearing 13 goats and one cow. I’m still pushing on for more prosperity because each day I manage to get $4 from selling the milk. I milk three goats and sell 2.5 liters of milk per day. I also milk my cow and sell the milk for $1. The remaining milk I give to my son so that he can grow strong.
We also learned about saving, and now I manage to save almost $2 per day. All this I have achieved because of the STRYDE program, which has given me enough knowledge and skills. Every day I use these skills in all the things I do. I’m living a happy family life and supporting my husband with house expenses.
I’m looking forward to buying a piece of land where I can do good goat farming and other agribusinesses. I intend to use the money that I have so far saved to buy higher quality goats, which will give me more milk to sell. Thank you to the STRYDE program.