Agriterra trained 14 strong willed female (future) leaders in the first ever ‘Female Leadership in Agricultural Cooperatives Masterclass’, held in Kenya. The group is composed of Zambian, Ugandese and Kenyan participants, representing organisations that are active in coffee, dairy, sunflower or credit and saving.
Main purpose of the masterclass is to strengthen the leadership skills of these women. These highly motivated cooperative leaders return full of energy and ambitions back to their respective cooperatives, better equipped to take up their leadership roles and make a change contributing to closing the gender gap in agricultural cooperatives.
Ann Tuwei is a treasurer of the Kipkelion Women in Coffee Organisation (KWICO) and the women representative of the Kimologit Farmers’ Cooperative Society. Ann is 46 years old, a mother of three children, a coffee farmer and a businesswoman in cereal trading. She went to a primary boarding school and then to high school where she studied for two years. Her parents were farmers who owned over twenty cows, which were their main source of income. However, due to her father’s illness, the family had to sell all the cows and raise Ksh. 70,000 (USD 654) to pay the hospital bill. This was a big hit to the family as Ann had to drop out of school and help her mother in starting up a small business. She could not go back to school as the money earned was used to educate her younger brother.
“I believe that women deserve an equal opportunity.”
Ann says that, while supporting her mother in the business, she acquired business management skills that she now uses in her current business.
Ann was married at the age of 21 to a polygamous husband. Due to struggles in her marriage, she decided to start her own small-scale poultry farm in 2003 which helped her raise enough funds to lease a piece of land 10 years after. She sold all the poultry, leased a piece of land and bought a dairy cow. Later, she bought her own 1,5-acre land where she grew coffee and bananas, which are now her main agricultural crops. She owns over 2,000 kg of coffee that are supplied to the Kimologit Farmers’ Cooperative Society.
Being an active supplier in her society, Ann was elected as a board member and as a women representative in 2017. As a women representative, she represents the interests of the women in the society, trains women on good coffee farming practices and promotes the table banking concept. Also in 2017, KWICO was founded through the mobilisation of women leaders in the different primary societies. Ann managed to convince her society to participate into the KWICO-concept and, together with other five societies, they formed the women organisation. In collaboration with other women leaders, Ann influences and motivates other coffee women to join the women organisation while offering them training sessions on coffee farming. She also lobbys for women’s positions in the primary societies and union as she believes that women deserve an equal opportunity.
Ann participated in the Female leadership training and masterclass organised by Agriterra, where she believes she was empowered. She is happy to have learnt about the MAFSAC-model. She thinks that she will be able to transfer this knowledge to other women leaders in KWICO as this will help them to improve their communication skills as leaders. Her aim is to use the skills she gained to bring more Primary Cooperatives into the women organisation and to lobby the union to create more positions for women in the board.