Joseph Gatitu lives in Ng’enda, Kenya with his wife and two young children. A trained lorry driver, Joseph, now 34, drove lorries and mini vans for 10 years, waking up early on cold mornings and driving for long distances.
Joseph earned about $100 U.S. per month, hardly enough to sustain his family and support his aging parents. Long hours on the road left him little time to spend with his family and led to marital disputes.
A few years ago, the early morning cold weather started affecting Joseph’s health. Joseph was diagnosed with pneumonia and asked to keep off the road by his doctor. But with no other way to support his family, he had to stay on and his health grew worse. In 2015, Joseph became very sick and unable to work for two months. He lost his regular job and his failing health prevented him from finding another one. He was struggling to make ends meet.
Then, in 2016, Joseph attended a horticultural training organized by World Renew's partner Anglican Development Services (ADS).
In 2013, ADS had identified horticultural training as a tool of economic empowerment in Ng’enda. They joined forces with the Ng’enda Sexual and Reproductive Health (NSRH) Project funded by World Renew to start horticultural training and support for growers bringing crops to market.
When Joseph heard about the opportunities in horticulture, he decided to give it a try. Joseph was already a member of Kiganjo Community Bank, another part of the World Renew NSRH project, so he was able to take a loan for $300 to invest in tomato farming on half of his one-acre farm. With support from ADS field officers, Joseph was able to earn $1,500 with his first harvest.
Joseph is now a full-time farmer. He has diversified his crops to add cucumbers and peppers and taken another loan from the community bank to invest in a water well and drip-irrigation system. In an year, Joseph estimates he will be making more than $3,500.
With flexible working hours and no more exposure to the harsh fumes of driving, Joseph’s health has improved a lot. He has been able to get proper medical care and can afford the expensive drugs prescribed by his doctor. Best of all, he is able to spend more time with his family.
Joseph is thankful for three things: ADS/World Renew training that opened his eyes to new opportunities, support in bringing his crops to market with relative ease, and a community bank that enabled him to easily access financing for his new enterprise, even without a background in horticulture.
Joseph is just one of the many beneficiaries of the joint ADS/World Renew project in Ng’enda. Almost 300 households are benefiting from the community bank, which currently has savings of up to $60,000 and has loaned over $80,000 its members since its beginning in 2014.
Most of the loans have been invested in local horticulture with over 80 percent of local households relying on agriculture for their main income.
These investments are made profitable through training and support provided by ADS and World Renew to educate farmers on market needs and provide easier access to markets.
Over 250 community members have been trained so far and 150 households have been linked to markets leading to a 60 percent increase in household incomes in just the last two years.
Farmers like Joseph Gatitu are now able to afford government-subsidized health insurance, and are able to better educate their children. Women and girls are at reduced risky for the economic instability that can lead to prostitution and trafficking.
With outcomes like this, Joseph Gatitu’s farm is indeed worth a gold mine.