- “All the 5,000 members have bank accounts from where they can withdraw money or borrow short-term loans to finance education of their children, particularly girls. It is our ultimate goal to empower the girl child,” says Hellen Nkaissery, the patron and wife of the local MP Joseph Nkaissery.
- In the region, the Sahiwal breed which is productively better than the local Zebu and Boran cows seem to be the dominant “animal of trade” even as the women set eyes on more improved breeds.
Every end month at the branches of Equity and Cooperative banks in Kajiado town, you will find in the halls long queues of women resplendent in multi-coloured shukas, bracelets and necklaces.
Two tellers in each of the banks are normally assigned to serve the women. At the Kenya Commercial Bank branch in Namanga, more than 80km away, things are not any different.
The women who throng the banks belong to the giant Maasai Kajiado Women Dairy Cooperative Ltd, an outfit that has changed the lives of dairy farmers in the county where cattle is the most precious property.
For most of the population, though, livestock here - cattle, goats and sheep - are kept in their hundreds for prestige.
But pride and honour are not enough for this women. They now throng the banks to receive their pay for monthly milk deliveries.
Milk in the Maasai community is purely a women’s affair, and so is this cooperative society’s management.
The institution’s turnover has shot from Sh59 million in 2012 to Sh87 million last year. Started in 2011, their first turn-over was Sh10 million, according to documents seen by Seeds of Gold.
The 5,000-member cooperative brings together seven women groups that deal in milk business in Kajiado Central. Interesting to note is the manner the institution manages its affairs. The women groups deliver milk to eight collection centres spread across the vast constituency.
“We deliver the milk between 6am and 2pm. Our members chose one of them to be in charge of the collection centres but a clerk manages the records at the cooling plants,” says Phyllis Matapash, the secretary of Ilkipirash Women Group, which has 1,000 members.
Initially, they had leased two cooling plants from New KCC. The County Government of Kajiado, however, recently donated two more. The cooling plants located at Enkorika Nkoile, Il Bissil and Kajiado town, have bettered the handling of milk, which is finally taken to the New KCC factory at Dandora.
The four cooling plants have a capacity of 20,000 litres per day but the women are capable of producing 40,000 litres, according to the cooperative’s field officer Zacheus Lesinko.
At the moment, milk prices range from Sh25 to Sh35 a litre, according to Ruth Maya, a member of Ilkipirash group, who delivers 150 litres per day from her 25 Sahiwal breed cows.
“We deliver as a group about 7,000 litres of milk per day during the peak season,” says Mary Maren, another member of the group and an official of the cooperative.
The cooperative insists that each of the farmers opens a bank account.