Millicent Akinyi Dula, a mother of six, is an improved cook stoves and briquettes entrepreneur based in Rarieda town, Siaya County, Kenya. Alongside her clean energy business, she manages a small scale farm with dairy cows, maize, and local vegetables.
When she lost her husband back in 1999, she was not sure whether she would have been able to raise her children alone and give financial support to her family. Jobless 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 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. The Ministry of Agriculture in Siaya County recognized our efforts and linked us up to Practical Action, who was running a project on women’s empowerment and energy access” explains Millicent.
Practical Action provided the group with training on business management, record keeping, marketing strategies development and technical skills on how to make briquettes. They also put them in touch with other women’s groups. This helped them to deepen their skills on the briquette making and cook stoves installation.
Nowadays, in one month, Millicent installs an average of 10 in-built kitchens and sells over 270 kilograms of briquettes. Her ambition does not stop here. She is looking into increasing her production by buying a briquette making machine. However, to grow her business and expand her clean energy activities, she needs funds. And, access to financing institutions and loans is one of the major bottlenecks for women-run enterprises. These barriers did not stop her will and ambition to move further. “I will continue to mobilize people in my community into adapting clean energy technologies , planting trees and thereby saving energy. I believe that together we will make this planet a better place for us and our future generations!”
This story was created in collaboration with our partner, Practical Action in East Africa.