“Learning experiences are like journeys. The journey starts where the learning is now, and ends when the learner is successful. The end of the journey isn’t knowing more, it’s doing more.” — Julie Dirksen, learning strategy and design consultant.
For four of our self-help groups, their learning journey began as they attended a five-day business training that was very informative, educative, exciting, and involving courtesy of Village HopeCore International. It was an eye opening week for our clients as they received information and knowledge on various topics of interest, including agriculture, financial management, credit and risk management, business planning, crop production, livestock management, savings advice, networking, and health education. The training was meant to strengthen the clients entrepreneurial and business skills so that they are better equipped to sustain and expand their businesses.
We all can relate with learning. From a very tender age, we are always learning something new; could be how to say mom or dad, or how to walk as one takes their very first steps, or better still attainment of that college degree.
According Marcel Proust a French novelist, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes. -. And that is what we seek to do at Village HopeCore International; open the eyes of our clients to new possibilities and access to opportunities and resources so as to enable transformation.
For Village HopeCore, training and empowerment is part and parcel of our day to day interactions with our clients because we acknowledge its undeniable role in transformation. Since its inception in 2001, the Micro Enterprise department has conducted over 25 business trainings and has trained over 1,140 loan clients. Many attribute the success of their businesses to the training and support offered to them by Village HopeCore.
As part of micro loaning policies and procedures, the program delivers its services and products to twelve-member Self Help Groups and requires groups to undergo rigorous training and screening processes before any flow of cash is directed to the group or its members; this ensures that beneficiaries are best placed to optimize the resources given to them and hence ultimately improve their livelihoods and strengthen clients entrepreneurial mind set and business skills so that they are better equipped to sustain and expand their various businesses.
In the month of March, Village HopeCore’s Micro Enterprise department held a five-day business training for four groups that are getting ready to be funded. These groups were Murimi FFS, Iruma A and B and Mt. Kenya Majira Self-help groups. The business training was held from 27th -31st March 2017. A total of 48 clients were trained on various topics. It was an activity-packed and exciting week. The clients were bubbling with expectation at the beginning and were asking questions all through the learning sessions.
Benjamin Franklin says, “tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Our trainings are tailored carefully to involve our clients on every aspect and topic.
Our clients were trained on various topics by selected specialists who have many years of experience in their various fields. All topics were carefully selected to suit the needs of our clients and presented in a way they could understand and relate with.
The first training session handled by an agricultural expert from the Ministry of Agriculture on Farming as a business, proper record keeping in the farm and farm planning was designed to help clients change their perception of seeing farming only as a subsistence sector where no income could be generated from. The topic farm planning focused on maximum utilization of the available farm land to maximize output. The session was very interactive with clients asking very many questions related to crop farming and the facilitator taking time to respond to them. Additionally, another Agricultural Officer trained the clients on The Gross Margin Analysis, a mathematical tool that analyses the monetary cost of any undertaking in the farm and helps the farmer in proper pricing of their produce. Although majority of the clients have not had formal education, the examples used were designed to be as user friendly and understandable as possible. Clients were also trained on soil and water conservation that aimed at impacting the clients with knowledge and skills on how to properly conserve their farms both soil erosion and maintaining water resources available.
The clients were also trained by a livestock production expert who took the clients through the management of a dairy cow. The dairy cow was chosen as the preferred animal as majority of the clients either chose dairy cattle rearing as their business of choice or already kept dairy cows in their homes. He also advised the clients on breeding in dairy cows so that they could better understand the concept of artificial insemination and avoid being misinformed by the private practitioners who run this business and are majorly only fuelled by the need to make profits. The session on breeding discussed the multiple methods available for producing high quality offspring and how to source different breeds. Breeding, otherwise known as mating, is the production of offspring. During the session, the clients also received training on how to make informed choices about what type of breeds would best meet their dairy farming needs. The clients additionally learnt that when initiating a breeding program, they should pay attention to the adaptive performance of the breed.
He also took time to explain in detail what they should look out for during the insemination process and maintaining the cow during pregnancy to ensure a healthy calf is delivered. This is because with majority of the clients not being able to acquire pedigree grade cows, the only way to improve productivity in their current stock is proper breeding and calf rearing. The session on calf rearing sought to teach clients the importance of properly feeding their calves in order to prevent malnutrition, when to feed calves and what to feed calves during different stages of their development. Proper calf rearing is the insurance for continuous dairy farming and therefore was one of the most important sessions of the day.
The dairy cow management training ultimately sought to help dairy farmers continue to professionalize their farming practices and make their milk cleaner, safer and ensure increase in productivity. Producing quality dairy opens access to a broader sales market, so family farms can sell their milk more frequently, rather than just once a day. This provides a stable and direct source of household income, therefore furthering HopeCore’s mission and vision to eradicate poverty in the Maara Sub County.
It was important for the clients to get lessons on feeds preservation because majority of people around the area rely on rain fed agriculture which means there is a period characterized by excess availability followed by complete lack hence the need to preserve feeds for use when the rains are not available.
Additionally, a sub-county development officer took the groups through group dynamics and management helping the groups understand their roles and responsibilities and function well as a cohesive unit with one goal.
The clients were also trained on business planning and were taken through how to predict expense and sales projections for their proposed businesses.
Figure 1: Dr KK, our president and CEO addressing the clients.
On the final day of training, the clients received health training. The clients were trained on the following topics HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, common communicable diseases, nutrition and family planning. Additionally, they received health services.
At the end of the training, the trainees were awarded certificates by our CEO/President and founder Dr Kajira K. Mugambi.
In conclusion, as Goethe says, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough we must do” we hope that our clients put into practise all they have learned and continue to learn to be transformed.