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Vijabiz: collaborative reporting of agribusiness in Kenya

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

© Georgina Smith

In 2018, Vijabiz – the Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness project – was launched to work with 160 youth agribusiness groups and around 2,300 individual youths (53% women) in the cereal, dairy and fishery value chains in Kilifi and Nakuru counties in Kenya. Implemented by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Ustadi Foundation, with main funding provided by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the project focused on building entrepreneurship and ICT capacity, creating market linkages, facilitating value addition and innovative access to finance.

Capturing success

In June 2020, WRENmedia was asked to submit a proposal for capturing the success of the youth groups and the best practices of the project. A condition of the proposal was that at least some of the team must be based in Kenya, which provided the perfect opportunity for the WRENmedia team to approach friend and former colleague Georgina Smith, a writer and photographer based in Nairobi, and Kenyan correspondent Bob Koigi to work with us to collect the youth groups’ experiences. This proved to be a winning combination. The proposal was accepted and planning for the Vijabiz publication started in earnest.

Despite Georgina and Bob being based in Nairobi, we had to overcome the challenges of travel restrictions and social distancing requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, after extensive planning and precautions, Georgina and Bob set off on a week-long field trip to visit groups in Nakuru and Kilifi, assisted by the respective Ustadi field officers. In total, 10 groups were visited in the field with Georgina and Bob both conducting interviews and Georgina also taking photographs. Additional experiences were captured with phone interviews conducted before and after the field trip.

Through close collaboration between Georgina, Bob and the WRENmedia team, 14 individual and thematic success stories were written to cover groups in all three value chains (cereal, dairy and fish), as well as capturing the particular success of all-women groups and those groups that had shown particular resilience in responding to climatic, as well as COVID-related, challenges.

Documenting best practices

At the same time as working on the success stories, the WRENmedia team worked with CTA and Ustadi staff to interview and document the approaches taken by the Vijabiz project to support groups through mentorship, ICT use, value addition, as well as working in tandem with county government officials. Five chapters were drafted, which also highlighted how the project had strived to enhance rural young women’s opportunities and success in agribusiness, and promoted innovations. Lessons learned throughout the project and recommendations for the future were also included.

With 10 chapters completed, a two-part 84-page publication was designed by the WRENmedia team to include Georgina’s eye-catching photographs; illustrating the dynamism and determination of the Vijabiz youth groups.

“Thank you very much for the strong commitment, support and demonstrated expertise to your full team for the production of this publication. It has been an intense and exciting endeavour within a tight timeframe. I have appreciated your personal flexibility and agility in communications.” Ken Lohento, Senior Program Coordinator, Digital Agriculture and Youth Entrepreneurship, CTA

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