- Cynthia Achieng, an agribusiness entrepreneur, joined the UNITAR training programme for women entrepreneurs in Kenya in 2022.
- Cynthia, who studied agriculture and technology for her undergraduate degree, quit her job as a salesperson in 2022 to establish an agribusiness specializing in irrigation technology and greenhouse installation.
- The six-week online entrepreneurial training on financial literacy has enabled Cynthia to be financially disciplined, and manage and assess risks.
- UNITAR runs the entrepreneurship training programme with Sunlight’s “Women of More” programme and ABSA Bank. It was launched in 2021 to train African women in entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.
9 February 2023, Hiroshima, Japan – Agriculture has always been a passion for Cynthia Achieng. And so she quit her sales job in 2022 to set up a business partner an agribusiness to meet the irrigation needs of farmers. It was a fulfilment of her dream to help farmers have maximum crop yield all year round.
Cynthia lives in Kisumu, in western Kenya. In that region, farmers face low crop yields because of low rainfall during the dry season. To address this need, Cynthia – who studied agriculture and technology as an undergraduate – set up an agribusiness specializing in irrigation technology and greenhouse installation.
The company provides farmers in Kisumu with irrigation equipment such as dam liners, high-density polyethene pipes, solar pumps and mini solar dryers. It also offers agronomic advice to farmers so they can adopt the best farming practices to increase their crop yield.
As a young entrepreneur, Cynthia did not have the financial resources to open a physical shop. Not to be deterred, she set up her company on social media platforms.
“We created a Facebook and Instagram page with our contacts. If farmers need some irrigation equipment installed, they call, and we send technicians to do the installation,” she explains.
She also faces the challenges of being a woman working in a male-dominated sector, where farmers tended to trust men more than women. To work around that, she focused on building strong customer relations. Customers impressed with her service are now referring other farmers to her.
Her company also reaches out to the community through field days, when agribusiness entrepreneurs can showcase their products to farmers. On those days, the company educates farmers on how to increase their crop yields by adopting efficient farming practices.
The UNITAR training experience
Even though Cynthia was progressing with her irrigation business, she lacked a financial model. So when a Kenyan social media influencer posted on Instagram about the UNITAR training programme for women entrepreneurs in Kenya, Cynthia did not hesitate to join.
UNITAR runs the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Leadership Training for Women Entrepreneurs in Africa with Sunlight’s “Women of More” programme and ABSA Bank. It was launched in 2021 to train African women in entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. It aims to help build women’s skill sets as social entrepreneurs by providing financial and digital literacy support. Delivered online with self-paced e-lessons, participants learn about the complete entrepreneurial cycle and how to create concrete business models that reflect the needs and opportunities in their communities.
Cynthia said the six weeks of online entrepreneurial training helped scale up her business.
Financial literacy has taught me to be financially disciplined and assess and manage risks. We were also taught leadership skills which will help me manage the growth of the business efficiently.
She believes more training programmes such as this one should be held to empower more women to become entrepreneurs. She also calls for such programmes to be held locally, so women who do not have access to digital technology can also take part.
Currently, Cynthia’s business has reached three towns in the western part of Kenya and she hopes it will eventually expand to every part of western Kenya.
Her long-term goal is to see her business evolve from a supplier of irrigation equipment to a manufacturer of irrigation equipment and have a physical structure to operate its business.
She hopes more women will venture into entrepreneurship.
The future is female. Women should get out of their comfort zone and do away with the mentality of depending on men for their source of livelihood. If we can equip ourselves with the necessary skills, we can conquer the world as women.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is a dedicated training arm of the United Nations. In 2021, UNITAR trained 370,139 learners around the world to support their actions for a better future. In addition to our headquarters in Geneva, we have offices in Hiroshima, New York, Bonn and various networks around the world.
One of the eight divisions of UNITAR, the Division for Prosperity, based in the Hiroshima Office and Geneva Headquarters, seeks to shape an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous world. World-class learning and knowledge-sharing services on entrepreneurship, leadership, finance and trade, digital technologies, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are offered. We empower individuals from developing countries – especially women and young people – to address inequalities. Our alumni are making a difference in least-developed countries, countries emerging from conflict, and small-island developing states.