(Amboseli, Kenya – 10 January 2022) Sixty women from a rural community in Kenya took their first steps towards financial freedom today, joining a trailblazing project to train them for careers as small business owners.
The women are all from Amboseli in southern Kenya, where communities living with wildlife rely heavily on natural resources for shelter, food, water and fuel.
The Jenga Mama (Swahili for “Empower Women”) education project provides three-year vocational skills training, with professions such as hairdressing, dressmaking and catering proving popular choices among the candidates.
“The project enables the women to gain financial independence for the first time and to generate sustainable incomes for their families and communities,” said James Isiche, Regional Director IFAW East Africa.
“As successful small business owners, they will reduce their reliance on wildlife and wildlife habitat in the Amboseli community lands—instead they will become advocates for wildlife protection and security.”
Once trained, the women will be assisted to find business partners, rent premises, buy machinery or equipment, and to market their small enterprises.
Integral to the project concept is the German Margarete Breuer Foundation who will provide full funding for the next three years.
“We are funding the project to provide young women equal employment opportunities and participation. When designing and funding projects we wish to create overlaps between funding priorities. In the area of animal welfare, supporting initiatives that sustainably improve the well-being of humans and animals alike is key,” says Peter H. Dehnen, Executive Director Margarete Breuer Foundation. “The Jenga Mama project gives 60 young women and girls in Kenya the chance to take their lives into their own hands and achieve financial independence. Only by improving livelihoods will it be possible to permanently defuse potential conflicts between humans and wildlife. Because animal welfare starts with people.”
Jenga Mama is part of a major long-term IFAW project, Room to Roam, which aims to reconnect fragmented habitats, allowing wildlife to migrate along their ancient routes.
Central to the effort is the involvement of local communities and the creation of alternative sources of income to enable the peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife, while also supporting long-term efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and protecting regional biodiversity.
Since 2013 IFAW has worked with the OOGR Maasai community (Olgulului Ololarashi Group Ranch) around Amboseli National Park to secure important migratory routes for elephants and other wildlife and, in exchange, create income opportunities for the local community.
Photos available here.
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
The International Fund for Animal Welfare is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org.
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