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What we do

Sustainable Food Production & Cooperatives

Better Food and Entrepreneurship in One Package

Food production aptly reflects the situation of women in Kenya: it might seem that women have the same opportunities as men, but in reality, they often lack the land or access to local food markets needed for commercial farming.

In rural Kenya, the traditional role of women has been to ensure family food production on small plots, while the majority of fertile land has been dedicated to cultivating cash crops like coffee, tea, and other lucrative plants.

This imbalance has led to two challenges: firstly, men are solely responsible for providing for their families, as women are excluded from the labor market. This results in economic dependence, but also leads to fewer resources available for the family.

The second problem is related to food production. Focusing on cash crops leaves little room for local food markets and their potential, as agricultural land is allocated to products meant for export. Simultaneously, food security suffers as it becomes increasingly reliant on imports and small-scale farming.

Cooperatives supported by International Solidarity Foundation offer a solution to this problem. A cooperative is a business model where members work together to achieve common profits and well-being. Cooperatives supported by Solidarity provide a safety net, microfinance, and education for disadvantaged women. For many, it provides an opportunity to earn their own income for the first time ever.

These cooperatives also offer technical support, storage capacity, and facilities such as drying equipment to women and their families. With all these resources in place, food products can be processed to ensure better income.


  • Improve women’s position in the labor market.
  • Promote local sustainable food production.
  • Provide women with the necessary networks and tools to enhance their operations.
  • Convince the entire family that investing in sustainable food production is economically beneficial.
Cultivating oyster mushrooms requires processes such as growing mycelium. Pictured is a demonstration farm by North Nyamira Women Saccon, where mushrooms are prepared for cultivation. Photo: Browline Omondi, 2023.



Value addition increases

The farming center established by the women’s cooperative in Nyamira, Kenya, enables processing of the harvest, such as through drying, significantly extending its shelf life. On the other hand, drying vegetables allows for further processing, such as turning them into powder. More advanced processed products also attract larger buyers. Through the drying and further processing of vegetables and mushrooms, the amount of waste is greatly reduced.


Market position strengthens

By forming a cooperative, farmers are also able to offer buyers hundreds or even thousands of kilograms of vegetables, turning large harvests from a challenge into an opportunity for more extensive business operations and increased income.


Cooperative activity enables innovation

Women receive training and are able to expand their operations; in 2023, the cooperative has trained women in cultivating the pale-colored and delectable oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushroom cultivation can thrive even with limited resources.

The return on investment is favorable, allowing women the potential for larger-scale cultivation. Our goal is to bring the first oyster mushroom harvest to the market within this year.


Local food security improves, and at the same time, family incomes increase. For instance, in a similar project in Somaliland, almost all participants reported significant growth in their incomes.


  • Creating a Sustainable Operating Network: In this project, as well as in all our other activities, our goal is to establish operations that can run independently. We aim for female entrepreneurs to collaborate with other local stakeholders to form a network that facilitates easy market access for their products. However, this requires resources, training, and long-term effort.
  • Identifying Market Niches and Purposeful Product Development: Bringing products to local markets demands a great deal of work; products must be appealing and of high quality, and broader distribution requires professional management.
  • Scaling Operations into Profitable Business: Our objective is always to initiate operations, and once they can operate independently, we can step back.
  • Convincing Spouses of the Value of the Work: Men still control the majority of land, so they need to be involved in the work and witness its benefits.

Project details

Location: Nyamira, Kenya

Toteutusaika: 2021-

Partner: North Nyamira
Women Sacco