Unexpected Consequences bring New Hope in the Midst of Extreme Poverty. 

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Nduku with two of her children standing by her home

As Easter approaches, I am reminded of the hope we have in new life.  In Kenya, the rains come at this time of year, and we see the barren land erupt into a profusion of growth and colour that bring the promise of new life.

Development projects also bring new life and hope through change, but not all of the effects of projects can be anticipated.   These unintended consequences can be negative or positive.  Nduku’s story demonstrates the positive effects that the development of Eggpreneur has had on the local community.

Soon after we began the construction of the training facility and barn on the home base of Eggpreneur, I was approached by a neighbourhood woman requesting a small amount of money.  She was begging because she had a sick child and no money.  I saw the desperation in her eyes, and I gave her a little money.  But she came back the next day and the next.  Finally, I said, “I cannot give you any more money, but I can give you a job.”

Nduku is now an extremely loyal, diligent and hardworking employee at the Eggpreneur base farm.  With regular access to eggs and steady income, her children are clearly thriving and no longer have the obvious signs of malnourishment. Nduku lives with her four children in a leaky 10x10 foot room.  The roof is weighted with rocks to prevent it from blowing away.  The kitchen is a separate shack constructed from branches and plastic and cloth scraps.  The ‘structure’ which was her bathroom, has blown away.  But Nduku has hope and she is dreaming.  From each pay period she saves enough money to buy two sheets of tin metal for a two room house she wants to build. 

Nduku only went to school up to grade 2, and some of the local shopkeepers have taken advantage of her illiteracy and charged her inappropriate amounts for her maize, beans and tin sheets.  But Nduku is beginning to attend portions of the Women Eggpreneur trainings – and she is learning more about business and money management. 

When the vision of Eggpreneur was being born, I dreamt about the changes it could bring to the Women Eggpreneurs, I wasn’t thinking as much about the effect the employment on the base farm would bring to the local community.  Being blessed by Nduku’s cheerful smile and knowing her children are fed and in school energizes me each day. 

Nduku's kitchen

Knowledge Exchange

Exchanging knowledge is an important part of Eggpreneur’s mission.  When we train women to care for chickens, we are transferring knowledge about poultry management to empower women to change their lives.  The women also learn about money management and investment.   In return, the women will share their needs and suggest new ideas to make the initiative more effective.  As we grow and learn together, the Eggpreneur program continues to meet the unique needs of the poor.

Knowledge exchange can flow in many different directions.  I was recently in Canada where I was privileged to share the Eggpreneur story with elementary school students in several different schools.  The students were insightful and passionate about Eggpreneur and learned how Canadians can influence the world and also learn from other cultures and countries. 

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Enjoying some knowledge exchange in the classroom

Enjoying some knowledge exchange in the classroom

Bore Hole Project

As Eggpreneur expands, we have heard from the women that obtaining water is a difficult and limiting factor in their ability to care for their chickens.  Many women are having to carry 20L of water 5 times per day; Each trip is a 3km journey.  Eggpreneur would like to drill a bore hole in order to provide easier access to water for both the Eggpreneur women and the rest of the rural community in which they live.  The bore hole would significantly reduce the amount of walking to less than 1 km for a round trip to obtain water.  We can only imagine the joy and happiness in these women’s lives when we can share this news with them. 

Our budget for this bore hole is $25,000 which also includes a solar panel to operate a submersible pump that can bring water up from 500ft underground to an above ground storage tank.

Image of a bore hole similar to the one we hope to develop for the Machakos Area

Image of a bore hole similar to the one we hope to develop for the Machakos Area

Feed Mill

We would also like to develop a manual feed mill.  Accessing quality feed in Kenya is very difficult, despite plenty of raw materials.  We can significantly reduce our cost of production and increase margins for the Eggpreneur program by combining our own feed rations.  Furthermore, if we control our feed supply, we can ensure that quality feed is produced that contains enough protein to develop healthy pullets and to maximize egg production. 

Our budget for the feed mill is $47,000 and this also includes a small building to secure the equipment and the feed that has been mixed and is ready to be distributed to the women.

We are eager to continue developing Eggpreneur through these two projects and it should also be noted that all equipment and labour for these 2 projects will be sourced locally.   

Would you consider donating towards the development of these projects?

Eggpreneur is supported through Lakeside Hope House, a Canadian charitable organization. You can give through a Cheque or Online

Mail Cheques to: Lakeside HOPE House
PO Box 1869 Guelph, N1H 7A1 (Memo: “The Eggpreneur Project”)

OR

Online through Canada Helps at: GIVE THROUGH THE LAKESIDE HOPE HOUSE.  Please select “The Eggpreneur Project” from the drop down menu to ensure the funds are directed to Eggpreneur.) 

A charitable tax receipt will be issued for donations over $25. Thank you.

Christmas Thanks

Reflecting on the Year

Over the past year, Eggpreneur has been blessed to work with young mothers, adolescent girls and rural women groups across Machakos County in Kenya.  Through our Eggpreneur model, we have been able to provide stable family incomes, a nutritious food source and employment through chicken farming to many families.  We were able to bring our first egg products to market and they have been well received.  As the year progressed, we witnessed changed lives and improved quality of life through development of Women Eggpreneurs.   

Thankful families with food to eat and money to pay bills

Thankful families with food to eat and money to pay bills

The Numbers

  • trained over 200 women on basic poultry management, nutrition and financial literacy
  • enrolled 20 women in an egg production micro-business
  • enrolled 50 women in the kukupreneur program (indigenous chickens for meat)

The Challenges

At the beginning, chicken coop management was a challenge for most Eggpreneurs.  However, with closer follow-up, technical support and creating a peer support network, our team has helped women develop a 75% laying efficiency each month.  As a result of this challenge, we realized the value of having the most successful Eggpreneurs mentor new women coming into the program.  These women support each other with fundamental knowledge about the business, but they have also created a network of strong and supportive friendships that has increased the resiliency of the communities.  The community is watching these Eggpreneurs perform and improve their quality of life, as a result we continue to receive weekly inquiries about women joining our program.  Praise God for this success.  

Moving Forward

In our performance analysis, we have recorded great results for some Eggpreneurs who are earning between $35 and $80/month.  Prior to joining Eggprenuer, these women were crushing stones into gravel and earning $30/month.  Some women are struggling to make a profit and so we have substituted their layer birds with indigenous meat birds.  The women raise the chickens for three months and then Eggpreneur purchases them for resale.  The free range indigenous meat chickens require less intense management and the women are demonstrating good results with them, thus continuing to provide additional income for these families living in poverty.  

The indigenous meat chickens

The indigenous meat chickens

We are now working through our challenges with some innovative solutions.  One of them is accessing a steady and affordable supply of quality chicken feed.  Feed can often come at a high cost and is not always readily available, even though inputs like corn are very accessible in Kenya.  Eggpreneur is raising money to purchase a simple feed mill, in order to stabilize our feed supply, improve the quality of feed and minimize our operating costs to ultimately increase the profits of Women Eggpreneurs.  

How you can join Eggpreneur to reach more women

Christmas is a time to show acts of kindness toward those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  During this season we aim to reach 200 families with an Eggpreneur solution. 

  • $600 will set one woman up as an Eggprenur, this will include a coop, chickens, feed and training
  • $30 will provide 3 chickens to help an Eggpreneur get started
  • $100 will support the training of five Eggpreneurs. 
  • we are also asking for donations to help fund a simple feed mill that we hope can be purchased in early 2017. 

As you consider to give to a worthy cause or charitable organization, Please forward any donations to:

1. Mail:  Cheques can be mailed to: Lakeside HOPE House, 75 Norfolk Street, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1H 2W6 (write on the check that funds are to be designated for “The Eggpreneur Project”)

2.   Online by credit card through CanadaHelps.org: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/lakeside-hope-house  (Select “The Eggpreneur Project” from the drop down menu)

I wish you and your family a blessed and peaceful Christmas season.

Sincerely,

 Matthew Dickson

Eggpreneur in the News: NBC - Meet Three Black Male Achievement Fellows Paying it Forward

We are humbled to share our simple journey of one Egg to a Global story; the story of Eggpreneur touching lives and improving impoverished families.  NBC news is recognizing the work and changes that we have started to make at Eggpreneur - this is only the beginning!

The Power of an Egg - Changed Lives

Sarah Mwende is one of Eggpreneur's top performers in egg farming. She is able to use the eggs to provide nutritious meals for her children, and the sale of her eggs also allows her to support her two children. Sarah's children were not able to attend school before she became an Eggpreneur.  With the revenue from her backyard egg farming, Sarah can now pay the school fees and her children are attending school.  "Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world"  Nelson Mendela 

Sarah and her backyard chicken coop

Sarah and her backyard chicken coop

The Power of an Egg

What came first, the chicken or the egg? To Eggpreneurs it doesn’t matter what came first, what they do know is that the egg has economic power to transform their lives for good. While up to 70% of rural Kenyans are engaged in subsistence agriculture as their principle livelihood, the Eggpreneur Initiative is leveraging this statistic to create a local solution to a generational problem. Eggpreneur creates opportunities for women to develop their livelihood through the use of micro-egg production using a sustainable business model to improve household income in the poorest regions of Kenya. In our second year of operation we have started realizing this Eggpreneur vision. The Eggpreneurs are improving their standard of living, meeting and exceeding their basic household and food security needs while contributing to the larger goal of community building.

“The Power of an Egg… a sustainable solution to fighting poverty and malnutrition in remote rural communities.” Founder Matt Dickson 

Activities Update

By March 1st, 2016, every Eggpreneur had her chicken coop ready and full with 150 active pullets. Each woman was also prepared with poultry skills and layers feed. With great anticipation, they were ready to begin the journey of becoming true Egg farmers and successful business women.

The eggs!!!! The second week of March was received with joy and excitement by all Eggpreneurs as they began to collect eggs from their flocks. We provided the women with the plastic egg trays and egg collecting baskets to carry the eggs to the Eggpreneur Distribution Center. By the end of March, Eggpreneurs had collected 36,000 eggs; the laying efficiency rose from 20% to 75% during the first two months of laying. The leading Eggpreneur Lady earned $44 in the first month of her production. This is great progress towards achieving our Eggpreneur vision, of changing lives one family at a time

Mary – an Eggpreneur & her “Eggcellent” layers

Mary – an Eggpreneur & her “Eggcellent” layers

Egg Collection and Sorting

Egg Collection and Sorting

Challenges and Solutions

We’re striving to create new and innovative ways to address daily challenges. Our immediate challenges have been: 1) High demand for eggs- We cannot satisfy our customers demand with the current production. By July, when our second flock of 4500 chicks will start laying, we will be able to meet the demands we are receiving every day by industries. 2) Bacterial DiseasesOur egg shortage was partly due to the adverse effects of coccidiosis disease (caused by wet litter) acquired by some pullets. Upon consultation with our veterinarian, the pullets were treated and are currently regaining their weight and increasing egg production.

We’ve managed to implement dry grass and dry beans stack as reliable and affordable litter material for chicken coops rather than wood shaving to keep the chicken coop dry at all times.

In the Marketplace

In the last month we have realized that our Eggpreneur fresh eggs are doing very well in the marketplace due the quality of our eggs and the consistency of our customer service. We are supplying our eggs to four and two star hotels and the largest Supermarket/store chain in Machakos county. In the month of April we were privileged to receive our Eggpreneur sponsor and supporter from Peterborough, Ontario, Canada! The couple came to visit Eggpreneur and witnessed first-hand the impact of Eggpreneur Initia tive. They had a wonderful time interacting, asking questions of women Eggpreneurs and took pictures with the children who have been eating eggs every day (which was rare for them before their mothers became Eggpreneurs!).

Eggpreneur Visitors

Eggpreneur Visitors

Future goals and projects:

  • We hope to employ 40 new Women Eggpreneurs (our 2nd flock) by July 2016.
  • Complete Poultry Training sessions followed by the construction of chicken coops and distribution of pullets.
  • Seek partnerships and collaboration with international companies, groups and individuals within the poultry industry to support us in scaling up the project to reach more families
  • Share more information and data with our stakeholders, supporters and volunteers to learn and improve the project.

Echoing Green

In May, Matt was able to present the Eggpreneur project to Echoing Green in New York City. Echoing Green is an agency that supports and helps social entrepreneurs. Eggpreneur was 1 of 19 finalists to compete to receive financial and educational awards from an original pool of more than 2700 projects. See the website!

As we approach distribution of the second flock of pullets by end of June and complete the training sessions, we invite you to be part of this noble initiative with a one-time or continuous donation by: 

1. Mail: Cheques can be mailed to: Lakeside HOPE House, 75 Norfolk Street, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1H 2W6 (Memo: “The Eggpreneur Project” )

2. Online through Canada Helps at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/cha rities/lakeside-hope-house NOTE: Please select “The Eggpreneur Project” from the drop down menu to ensure the funds are directed to Eggpreneur.

A charitable tax receipt will be issued for donations over $25. Lakeside Hope House will forward your donations directly to The Eggpreneur Project in Kenya. Thank you for your support!

With love from Kenya,

Matt Dickson

Email: matt@eggpreneur.com

Website: www.eggpreneur.com

THE “BABIES”? SECOND BORNS

 Everybody at Eggpreneur farm had been eagerly waiting for the second born babies. The preparation of the brooding house had been done, now with experience and good care as learned from the first chicks. The preparation had some wood shavings and newspapers to ensure there was enough ventilation and warm brooding rings. 

Every brooder ring was surrounded by bales of grass and wood shavings to prevent cold from penetrating into the rings. Jumping from 2000 chicks to 4500 chicks was like doubling the number of births from the first round. All the chicks arrived safely, they were healthy, happy and excited in their new environment. In addition, Eggpreneur Farm managed to install the solar panels that provide light throughout the day and night and also help with the warmth during the night.

Though the caring of chicks may not be as complex as many people think, it needs a lot of care and high standard of hygiene. So far we are doing well with a reduced mortality rate of 0.4% and we are managing it so that it can remain as low as possible. We hope with our past experience, motivated farm workers with skills on how to care for chicks as well as qualified Veterinary officer will raise good healthier pullets.

Thank you for your continued support and thoughts about Eggpreneur.

Matt & Eggpreneur Team

First Eggs

What would one do if the long awaited child is born anyway? It indicates some hope and progress in the life circle of the bearer. That was exactly the excitement at Eggpreneur Farm when we saw the first eggs from our pullets. It had been a long wait for the women and every one was becoming more anxious. The common questions had become what could have been wrong with the pullets, if we could be feeding them wrongly, if they needed more time in the laying boxes or if they could be sick. However, we have come to a realization that such questions only lead to unnecessary nerves and frustrations when most pullets need patience and support of the highest degree. As a result, any farmer needs to remain composed, calm, and caring, but not overbearing, anxious, and nervous.

The only challenge that is remaining is that the laying efficiency of the pullets is still low. However, we expect that by the end of this week most of them will be laying, since 80% of the hens have already gained the necessary egg laying weight. With the onset of the laying, we ready to issue the pullets to the trained Eggpreneurs. With such, Eggpreneur Initiative is doing well in its effort to attain set goals in accordance with its vision and mission statements.

With Regards,

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McMaster GH Grad Matt Dickson: Making a Difference in Kenya's Rural Communities with Startup Eggpreneur

Published: August 13, 2015

McMaster MSc Global Health program graduate Matt Dickson in Kenya

McMaster MSc Global Health program graduate Matt Dickson in Kenya

When Matt Dickson began the MSc Global Health program at McMaster, his intention was always to return home to Kenya, where he hoped to one day make a difference in the country’s rural communities. Today, he’s doing just that. In January 2015, Dickson started Eggpreneur, a social community project that supports sustainable egg production at a remote rural homestead in Kenya.

Eggpreneur trains and engages women egg farmers (“Eggpreneurs”) to develop the knowledge, skills and partnerships required for sustainable egg production. “It’s a social entrepreneur model that uses poultry farming as a tool to eradicate child malnutrition,” explains Dickson. “At the same time, it’s creating jobs and increasing household income for Kenyan women.”

The project was borne of Dickson’s research work during the Global Health program. “But it was all part of a bigger plan,” he explains. “I knew I wanted to take all of my knowledge and experience – everything I’d learned – back to Kenya.”

What the program helped him do was to prepare for the opportunities ahead.

“The program opened my mind to critical thinking, international development and strategic planning to tackle the most pressing global health issues,” says Dickson, who explains that the program inspired him to think more about child malnutrition, a major global issue that leads to negative health outcomes for millions. “So many children are mentally and physically disabled due to poor diet in their earliest months of life. I wanted to do something about it,” he says.

For Dickson, Eggpreneur represents his chance to give back. Having witnessed poverty and experienced it first-hand, he is thankful for the education, training, and connections the program has afforded him. “The whole reason I joined McMaster was because I wanted to be one of the leading young scholars tackling the quest for ending extreme poverty and malnutrition,” says Dickson, reflecting on his decision and the peers with whom he worked collaboratively throughout the program. It seems only fitting that fellow McMaster GH graduate Faye Stoter has recently joined the project, helping to make Eggpreneur a success.

“Our vision is ambitious,” admits Dickson, “but we’re proud of that, because we’re committed to it, and we believe we can make it happen.”

To support the Eggpreneur project, you can donate through Lakeside Hope House in Guelph (Please reference 'Eggpreneur' on your cheque/payment memo or select Eggpreneur online).

An Exciting Time Ahead!

Welcome and thank you for reading our first Eggpreneur blog post!

This is an exciting time for us. We’re embarking on a journey to contribute and build social entrepreneurship capacity in Kenya to address child malnutrition, unemployment and extreme poverty in remote rural areas. And we’re glad you can join us on this journey. 

In Eggpreneur’s blog, you’ll meet the Eggpreneurs and their stories of the challenging background, courage, determination and resilience to succeed. You’ll see, hear videos and read many diverse stories from individual perspectives on improving economic stability and child nutrition for families.  
You’re also going to learn about the challenges and we face but most importantly the celebrations and milestones we’ve achieved.  

You can also get all the latest updates on our website.  We’re glad you’re here.  And if you would like to get in touch with us, our email is matt@eggpreneur.com.  We’ll be happy to connect with you. 

Best wishes,

 

Matt Dickson
Eggpreneur Founder