Jackline smiles as she ushers me into a Green House. She takes me through a tour of the green house where I try to keep up with her as she chats me up about her life and the Green House. She and other DREAM girls are in the process of harvesting Lettuce. At 24 years old, Jackline is a mother of one residing in one of the slums in Kamkunji Sub-County, Nairobi, Kenya. Jackline moved to Nairobi from her rural area to pursue her college studies where she graduated with a Diploma in Information Technolgy in 2012. Even with her advanced college education, Jackline could not find any formal employment. Needing to survive to meet her basic needs and those of her family, Jackline was pushed by circumstances to get married.
She was introduced to the DREAMS Program 2 years ago during a home visit. The program funded by PEPFAR through USAID is supporting Adoelescent Girls and Young Women to keep them HIV free. She was enrolled in a safe safe group where she met girls like her who became a support system for her. Jackline underwent a comprehesive training on Financial literacy and Entrepreneurship. During a career awareness training, Jackline also learned of an opportunity to pursuse an agri-business course and felt that this was the opportunity she had been waiting for hence enrolled for the course.
Through a Public Private Partnership between the DREAMS Program and the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation 2jiari Program, Jackline was trained for 3 months on hydroponics farming which is a method of growing plants without using soil. The training was conducted onsite at Miramar International College. Upon successful completion of the training, Jackline formed a group of 7 girls and they applied for a loan worth Kes. 1,000,000 ($ 10,000) from KCB. Part of the loan was used by the group to secure an acre of land for construction of a green house. With a lot of technical support from the bank and mentorship from the DREAMS Program, the group decided to plant lettuce which matures in 45 days. Besides providing the loan and training, KCB also buys the produce from the group each season which they sell to high-end hotels then deduct a percentage from the profits which goes towards repayment of the loan. Through this Public Private Partnership, the DREAMS Program has trained a total of 90 girls to date on agri-business.
“I’m really happy about this opportunity as it has completely changed my life.I have gained critical business skills and I am able to earn money to support my family and my child’s upkeep.” Says Jackline. She no longer has to worry about basic family needs such as food and rent. She is also able to save 50% of her earnings which she intends to use to start her own green house and use the hydrponics technology to expand her business.