OLKERI BREAD: Could this be the Beginning Of Women Led Industrialization?

A group of 2400 women from Olkeri Ward in Kajiado North constituency have launched a new brand of bread “OLKERI BREAD”  in the highly competitive market.  The group known as Olkeri Women Movers raised the seed capital through a contribution of Ksh150 from each member to establish the bakery.

The bakery which is located in Memusi, Matasia started production last week on Wednesday 19th September.  According to the area MCA Hon. Peter Gitau who came up with the idea, the bakery sold 75 loaves of bread on the first day, 120 on the second day and 150 loaves on the third day.

Hon. Gitau further said “we are targeting to sell 3000 loaves of bread per day in the near future. If we sell each bread at a wholesale price of 35 shillings, the bakery can turnover around 105,000 shillings daily or approximately 37 million shillings annually, generating a profit of approximately 17 million shillings”.

How will all the group members benefit from the business?

Hon. Gitau told our reporter that the startup does not have the capacity to employ each and every member currently, but the profits will be used to establish other cottage businesses until every member is economically empowered.

“We can for example, using the profits, fund a chicken businesses for some of the elderly members, who will supply eggs to the bakery. We may also consider using some of the profits to give bursary to all students from our ward ” Hon Gitau said.

Why cottage businesses instead of focusing in building infrastructure such as roads?

Hon. Gitau said “during the 2017 election campaigns, I conducted research and most people requested jobs as the first priority. As a leader I must therefore come up with revolutionary empowerment ideas such as the cottage industries, which will not only create sustainable jobs but empower people economically.  We will still build roads.”

Evangeline Njeri – Olkeri Bread Chief Chef

The MCA further said, the initiative is the beginning of a women led industrialization within Olkeri ward.  The focus will be in the production of basic household commodities such as unga, soap, bread etc

“Why can’t the women produce uniforms for all the schools in the ward?” Hon. Gitau asked.

Critics

Hon. Gitau acknowledges he was putting his political career at risk when he decided to join hands with the women group to start the project. There has been criticism from some political opponents who are not happy with the MCA engaging in such projects and wished the MCA would focus on oversight and coming up with laws that will create enabling conditions for businesses.

Other critics are some of the spouses of the members who allege lack of transparency in the project.  There were also allegations that the seed capital had been misappropriated, but the MCA rubbished the claims saying the rumors came up following unavoidable delays which were caused by the processes of obtaining the necessary documents such as VAT and other licences to establish the bakery.   “There are some who didn’t believe we could do it, the bakery is now open,  and residents are buying the bread” Hon. Gitau said

Is there space for men and youth in the projects?

Hon. Gitau said the men will benefit greatly if their mothers, sisters, wife’s and daughter succeed. He further said the reason why he started with the women is because they are more organized, experienced and committed to such initiatives.  “Majority of the women groups are managed using rules and constitution, which gives them an edge over men. The youth are already included since some of the members are under 35 years old ” Hon Gitau said.

Chief Chef Evangeline Njeri giving our reporter a tour of the bakery

Moving forward 

MCA Gitau said, there will be regular monthly evaluation of the project as well as publication of accounts for transparency purposes.

His target is to establish at least 20 jua kali industries within Olkeri ward to create approximately 1000 jobs before his first term comes to an end.

(File Photo) Olkeri Ward MCA Hon. Peter Gitau

The group is targeting to recruit between 2600 – 3600 new members.  Membership fee is 500 shillings per woman.

Views from some residents of Olkeri Ward

Mercy who lives in Matasia said “to stand out, the bakery should make bread which is different from the other similar products in the market.”

John who is a bodaboda rider said “I haven’t seen the bread yet.  I will support the project completely if the profits will be used to improves lives in the community.”