Virgin Coconut Oil On High Demand
Even with this “tight” economy, my cooking oil jar reads “time to top up”. I am here thinking of trying my grandmum’s way of cooking as I fight cholesterol.
However, just when I was about to beat my grand Ma’s cooking skills, a friend of mine has introduced coconut oil in my kitchen and my jar might overflow.
Thanks to the determined women group dubbed Lola Rako in Kilifi County that is in the coconut oil business and selling the oil at an affordable price.
Started in 2018 to improve the quality of life for people in the area, the young mothers practiced table banking which is a strategy where the group saves and borrows money during meetings.
Table banking was however not answering to all their financial needs, they saw a business opportunity in the coconut oil making since the raw materials were easily available and no one in the area was doing something similar as the area had a demand for virgin coconut oil.
Lola Rako Women Group chair Lucy Kea says “We were able to get experts in coconut oil production and they trained us on how to produce this commodity”
The mother of four says the production of the oil requires a lot of patience since the use of locally made manual equipment needs a lot of effort and time to use.
Isabella Chitsaka, a mother of two and a member of the group says she has greatly benefited from the hustle “…at least the profit is shared among members…so I have been able to pay some school fees, bought house stuff, clothing, fundraising in our church and our large family in case of family functions”
However, for the oil production, they needed equipment for the grinding process and since it was expensive, they could not afford it. Through Ndoto Zetu applications, the group expressed their need for funds to expand their business by getting equipment.
Initially, they used locally made manual equipment which required a lot of effort and time to use. Safaricom Foundation, through Ndoto Zetu, assisted the group by giving them; coconut grating machines, funnels, and containers in order to ensure that the oil-making process was not difficult and tiresome, and they had the packaging for selling.
“At least we can grate 500 coconuts that give us 15 to 18 liters per day as opposed to the 200 coconuts we grated before to get 6 to 7 liters” Isabella says
“Nashukuru sana Safaricom Foundation kwa kuona ndetu zetu zina manufaa kwetu sisi na kwa jamii.” Lucy thanks Safaricom Foundation
The materials have made their lives easier since the work is easily done without consuming a lot of time, thus they are making more money to sustain themselves.
The group sharing its constraint through their chair, “We are just selling the oil to the people around. We need to be certified by KEBS so that we can sell our product across the borders for more financial gains. So we are still saving for the registration process”
Even with the limitation, they have been able to buy tents and chairs to rent out while most members have ventured into more side businesses.
For well-wishers and sponsors like Safaricom Foundation through Ndoto Zetu Initiative who help individuals and groups actualize their dreams for the community, Lora Rako Women Group is thankful and hopes to be the biggest producer of virgin coconut oil.