Millicent’s entrepreneurial spirit is helping her provide for her family and support other women business-owners in her community. Her business is also improving women’s health AND conserving natural resources. Sound amazing? It’s all in a day’s work for this talented entrepreneur!
“I want be the first woman to set-up a briquette production centre in my village.”
Millicent Akinyi Dula is an entrepreneur who lives in Rarieda, Kenya. She sells low-smoke cookstoves and briquettes. Alongside her clean energy business, she manages a small farm with dairy cows, maize, and vegetables.
When Millicent’s husband died in 1999, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to raise her children alone or support to her family financially. Unemployed, and with no savings to rely on, she convinced a group of friends to set up a credit group to support their day-to-day activities. To her great surprise, they all agreed and the Chiwo Women Group was founded.
“Back then, we were able to save money which we used for our children’s school fees and to build corrugated board roofs for the houses of those members who were living in grass thatched houses. We also bought three water tanks, which were installed at strategic points across the village.”
A new connection
“The Ministry of Agriculture in Siaya County recognized our efforts and linked us up to Practical Action, which was running a project on women’s empowerment and energy access.”
We helped the group get training on business management, record keeping, marketing strategies development and technical skills on how to make briquettes. We also put them in touch with other women’s groups. This helped them develop their skills further, including learning how to install the stoves.
A healthy and environmental solution
In rural Kenya, a lot of people cook using firewood or charcoal. These release dangerous smoke into the air that can damage the lungs of those who breathe it in. Women are most at risk because they traditionally do most of the cooking. Millicent’s low-smoke stoves and briquettes are a healthier solution.
The environment is benefitting too. With less wood being collected for fuel, local forests are able to grow. This increases the amount of oxygen in the air as well as providing other benefits, such as improving soil fertility.
A growing business
Millicent installs an average of 10 in-built kitchens and sells over 270 kilograms of briquettes every month. Her ambition does not stop here. She’s looking into increasing her production by buying a briquette making machine.