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A Woman’s Work – Silvia’s Story

By Practical Action On 24.06.2024 FarmingBlog

Young Kenyan farmer challenges perceptions about women in farming – and transforms her community

Silvia Auma is nothing less than an inspiration to young women in her community after overcoming sociocultural perceptions about women in farming to create a successful business. 

The 29-year-old from Busia County in western Kenya has built up an agribusiness growing African leafy vegetables (ALVs) with the help of RAY, a Practical Action initiative to train young people in agriculture and business management. 

In 2017, Silvia, a mother of three, became interested in ALVs because the start-up capital required was modest and it provided a quick return on investment. 

But when she asked her husband to support her, he expressed doubts about the enterprise. 

She said: “My spouse was initially reluctant to let me use a small portion of his maize farm to grow vegetables. He didn’t think it would be worthwhile. He preferred that I focus on raising our children.” 

The agripreneur was undeterred. “After several attempts to persuade him, he finally gave me a chance to prove myself,” she added.   

Silvia knew failure was not an option and poured her heart and soul into the business – and her hard work paid off. Every morning, people would come to the farm to buy her vegetables and her family’s finances were transformed. 

She said: “I earned the admiration and support of my spouse. He even allocated me more land to grow ALVs.”


The money was not the only reward. Silvia felt more respected and loved within her young family and the wider community and felt proud to support her spouse financially.   

In April 2023 she joined the RAY project as a mentor and gender champion and received hands-on training in gender empowerment, business management, regenerative agriculture, mentorship, and land leasing, amongst other skills. She also joined a network of established and emerging agripreneurs in Busia County under RAY.   

Silvia now uses her story to encourage and inspire others, particularly women and people with disabilities, to overcome negative sociocultural beliefs standing in their way.   

“I have visited many homes and persuaded fathers and spouses to allow their daughters or partners to use family land for agribusiness or support them to lease land elsewhere,” she said. “I have succeeded in most cases and I find a lot of fulfilment in that.” 

Silvia has also seen her business expand further since joining the RAY programme thanks to the skills she has learned in record keeping, leasing, and maximising production using technologies such as raised beds, keyhole gardens, conical gardens and mandala gardens.   

Never one to rest on her laurels, Silvia now aims to expand into poultry production to grow her income after seeing the untapped opportunities in the practice thanks to her peers in RAY.