Hello, current and future Nuru International fans and supporters. I am honored to be writing you from off-hours headquarters here at Nuru House in Isebania. Business-hours HQ is the Regional Training Center, which houses the offices, the dairy, the new warehouse for Agribusiness, and the social epicenter, Mama Mogosi’s café, where I have consumed an inordinate amount of beans, the ubiquitous green vegetable sukuma wiki, and a variety of delicious fried breads. Business hours are very full these days. We are heading into the maize harvest, which for IGA means maize trading season, hot on the heels of Transition.
Transition spanned June, and involved a month of overlap as FT7 welcomed FT8 and prepared to hand off the programs to which they’ve devoted the last year of their lives. More specifically, in my life, it meant I graduated with my MBA in May in Los Angeles, and two weeks (and 20 hours of flight time plus 10 hours of time difference) later, I landed in Nairobi, bused 7 hours down to Isebania, and began following Naruth around wide-eyed, memorizing his every move.
Naruth introduced me to the IGA (Income-Generation Activities) Program, a department whose creation he spearheaded in 2011. Nuru International Kenya was conceived with the goal of sustaining its impact programs through earned revenue, reducing its dependency on overseas donations. In the beginning, the impact programs themselves were responsible for bridging the financing gap. The Agriculture Program had a loan product with the dual purpose of providing farmers with agricultural inputs necessary to increase their maize yields as well as generating income from interest payments to Nuru. The Education Program created a dairy farm, both to provide much-needed nutrient-rich milk to the community and income from milk sales. The Healthcare Program sold products that promoted healthy, hygienic behaviors. These social enterprises were well-intentioned, but it became apparent that to become a true engine of sustainable growth for the organization, the Income-Generation Activities needed to come together under one departmental roof, managed by a team with business experience as well as a vision for holistic community development. Fortunately, Naruth assembled much of that team during his rotation, and now I am learning from their experiences and helping them refine and expand this social enterprise model.
When I walked in, a little over a month ago, the foundation had already been laid for this season’s maize buying. The major components of the strategy had been put in place, including the introduction of mobile maize-buying units with more flexibility to buy maize from farmers in the field, in addition to 6 Village Aggregation Centers (VACs) where farmers can bring their maize to sell 5 days a week. The last few weeks we have worked together with the Agriculture team to build a tight schedule of buying centers, perfect our buying procedures, train the VAC clerks and mobile buyers, and get the word out to farmers at meetings across Kuria West. In a couple days, the VACs open, and next month, the mobile buying centers hit the road. I am proud of the work my team has done to prepare, and grateful that so much good work was done before I arrived to ease my transition. Now it’s time to see all these preparations pay off! I look forward to updating you next month. Thanks for tuning in.