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Smart AID

Unlocking capital for farmers facing starvation due to lockdown

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Right now in Kenya, starvation is a bigger fear than COVID-19. Lockdown measures meaning that those that live hand to mouth are struggling to fead themselves and their families. Memusi Foundation work in Magadi, in Kajiado County. Kajiado last week declared an emergency facing the County in that 150,000 people are expected to starve as a result of COVID-19 and the measures put in place to stop the spread. Such measures include the closure of markets and for an area that relies primarily on livestock for income, the problem overnight has been crippling. 

Memusi Foundation are an education charity working across the entire Magadi Ward and we have pivoted our work at this time to support people facing starvation. Not only have we provided soap and training to the communities that we serve as well as face masks, we have launched a programme called Smart AID to help those livestock owners who are suffering and keep the local economy going. 

Smart AID unlocks the capital that people have tied up in their livestock; a bit of a circular economy approach. People cannot buy food because they don’t have the cash as it is tied up in their livestock that they can’t sell at market. People can’t sell food as buyers don’t have the cash to buy. Rather than giving food aid to both parties who face starvation, Memusi are buying the goats. Goats purchased will then be used to train members of the community that are unemployed and living in abject poverty. Training will include animal husbandry, helping people to learn how to breed livestock. The new livestock will be kept by those trained at the end of the programme, the livestock purchased returned to Memusi who will sell at market upon markets re-opening later in the year; with that money ultimately going into education. Therefore a 3-tier model of benefit; one investment, 3 layers of beneficiaries, helping people facing starvation, training the un-employed and investing in education 

What is the need are you focusing on?

In Kenya, starvation is a bigger fear for many than COVID-19 itself. Many people across the country are living hand to mouth and are driven out of their homes looking for work on a daily basis in order to live. Lockdown measures stop the spread of the virus, but have started to drive the population into starvation; not just those that are already in abject poverty, but "normal" Kenyans who find their role of employment stopped overnight. Through market closures, those with the ability to trade are now sitting on stock, but do not have the ability to trade, meaning that whilst food aid is the obvious and easy answer, it is not a wise investment when people simply need their capital unlocked.

What is the best example of business adaption you’ve seen in response to COVID-19?

I believe that the best business adaptation is the one described above. Memusi Foundation have not reverted to type and asked for money as soon as the virus has started. Time invested in research and deeply understanding the evolving situation in country has enabled Memusi to be able to pivot from solely focussed on education, to help save lives of people suffering with Starvation.

What is your profession?

Founder of Memusi Foundation

Where are you located (country)?

Live in the UK and work in Kenya

Where are you located (region)?

  • Eastern Africa

Which industry do you work in?

  • Education

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your submission? Are you participating in these efforts?

N/a

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