Historically, women have always been disadvantaged in the socio-economic and political spheres in the society. However, one woman who hails from Ndhiwa in Homabay County has stood out as a pinnacle of success in a male dominated society.
Millicent Anyango who was orphaned at an early age, and a mother of six has managed to think out of the box, saving her poverty threatened household from incessant pangs of hunger.
With a young family and a husband merely eking a living, Anyango has developed a strong economic support base that has now morphed the family.
I decided to join a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO) known as GIZ which trained me on making jikos called rocket stove. I worked with this organization from 2008 to 2013, she said.
Thereafter, Anyango joined another NGO, Integrated Association of Kenya (ISAK) where she improved her skills in making jikos.
She learnt making portable multipurpose jikos which use both firewood and charcoal. The range includes ‘jiko smart’, ‘jiko kisasa’ and ‘Chepkube’ type which have an oven. Others are rocket stoves which use firewood and are mostly used in schools, hotels and incinerators in hospitals and boilers.
Anyango says that it takes five to six hours to make one jiko in a permanent house, while it can take up to twelve hours to make the same jiko in a semi-permanent house.
In a semi-permanent house, she has to dig and build a strong cemented foundation which consumes a lot of time and the cemented area must dry first before making the jiko on top of it.
If a customer has all the materials required for the work, we negotiate labour charge but if the materials are mine, then I charge Sh. 15, 000, Anyango said.
She says she got motivated to join the male dominated work when she saw a woman who was repairing bicycles in Rongo town.
Anyango thanks her husband who has supported her in her work by allowing her to attend to her customers countrywide. She says that he never complains when she traverses the country to attend to her clients.
I get calls from clients in different parts of the country such as Mombasa, Eldoret, Machakos to construct the jikos, she said adding that she feels good now that she pays fees for her children and meets other basic needs.
Her first born is a second year in University, second third and fourth in high school and the last two in Primary school.
Anyango’s desire is to see other women working hard and advises them to take up male dominated jobs instead of waiting for their husbands to put everything on the table. She also urges men to support their wives to startup businesses in the informal sector.
If your husband has given you an opportunity to work just like me, please grab that but don’t get involved in other things apart from your work, she said.
She said that she is ready to teach other women the skill so that they can benefit from it because the venture is marketable countrywide.
Anyango started up her own company known as JIROMI agencies, where she has two partners.
This company majors in making jikos and training of both men and women in the activity. The company also engages in construction and is currently building an administration block at St. Mary’s Nyang’ao Secondary School.
She says her biggest challenge is that she faces a lot of discrimination from a society which looks at her with feminine lenses. She cited a time when she went to work in Machakos, and when the client saw her, she expressed reservations, yet she was a fellow woman.
She was disappointed, but had to prove the client wrong. After finishing the job, the client was utterly surprised by the good quality of the jiko.
Another major challenge she faces is the fact that she is a mother, a wife and she has responsibilities which sometimes she cannot do when she is away.
Edwin Rori, a customer said that he knew Millicent through friends who told him that she makes wonderful jikos.
He said the jikos have many advantages to their users, which include traditional jikos, which are durable, cook faster, uses little firewood, emits little or no smoke and prevents diseases.
Rori added that he trusts the work of women because most of the time, a
woman will value what she does and tries her best to perfect it.
Source: Kenya News Agency