New plans, new students and much more

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 — It seems like a long time since my last blog post, and in fact I’m now in my last month in Kenya and lots has happened since I last wrote.

Making professional plans
During December we made use of the quiet during school holidays to do lots of planning. Many of the previous business budgets had been done without consultation from experts. This meant that they were inaccurate and couldn’t be a good basis for us to decide which businesses would be most profitable and which should be started first. So during December we met with: a livestock officer from the ministry of agriculture to rework the dairy budget, a horticultural expert to discuss mango seedlings, tree seedlings and pineapple and an apiculturist to work on plans and budgeting for a bee keeping project. These meetings gave us a good basis to sit as the committee and make plans for the coming year.

Dairy business
As the dairy business now looks very profitable work on it has restarted. Our napier grass is now ready to harvest, we are currently having the cow shed constructed and have just started the task of researching suitable cows to purchase. This last task is very important to get right as buying good quality cows is crucial to the success of the project, therefore careful research is needed.

Grain storage business
We have also just started purchasing our second batch of grain for the grain storage business. We are hoping that a good profit will be made this time round as we implement the lessons learned from the first batch. This time we made sure money was ready early so that we didn’t miss the lowest market price. We are also advertising for local farmers to bring their maize to us rather than traveling to markets to purchase it. This increases profitability as we minimize transport costs and losses due to spillages. It also means we are benefiting Ondati’s farmers by providing a market for them to sell their maize.

Recruiting new students
The other main task of the last month has been recruiting students to join Form 1. After the KCPE (Kenyan Certificate of Primary Education) results came out at the end of the December the recruitment drive really began! Myself and Margaret Kisambi first traveled to all the local primary schools to collect names of girls who may be interested in joining Ondati. We then spent the following few days traveling around on a motorbike visiting each girl in their home to talk to them about the school and give them a calling letter to join. Telling girls who thought they were not going to have a chance to go to secondary school (because they can’t afford the fees at other schools) that they are now going to have a chance was incredibly rewarding.
Altogether 30 calling letters were given out and enrollment started on the 1st of Feb and is expected to continue until the 5th. As of the 2nd Feb 20 girls had already enrolled!

I’m in Kisumu right now, but eagerly awaiting get back to Ondati to meet the new students!

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