With an eye for opportunity and patience for hard work, Jennifer Akinyi Awuor is cultivating a brighter future for her family.
In the receding heat of a Kenyan afternoon, Jennifer waters many rows of healthy green tree seedlings in her backyard. Tending to her young trees brings Jennifer satisfaction—and income. She started small, but now has a thriving business selling seedlings, and her earnings continue to grow.
Since her tree business took off, Jennifer has purchased a cow, four sewing machines, new furniture, and a mobile phone. She also obtained piped water for her garden and home. A savvy businesswoman, Jennifer sells water to her neighbors to cover her own monthly water bill.
She is also putting her children through school, an important feat in a country where extreme poverty prevents many students from completing their education.
I am able to pay school fees for my children with income from the tree nursery alone.
As her income has grown, Jennifer has embraced the culture of saving, with the goal to save enough money to buy land and build a house for her family outside of her husband’s family compound.
As a widow, Jennifer’s life was not always like this. When her husband died in 2006, Jennifer was left alone to care for 10 children. When the Millennium Villages Project started in her community of Sauri (Kenya), more than 60% of residents were living on less than $1 a day. Survival itself was a daily challenge.
Before his death, Jennifer’s husband started the tree nursery in their backyard. In 2007, Jennifer went to a training workshop on tree nursery management organized by Millennium Promise. That training helped her make the nursery what it is today.
Jennifer also recently built four beehives in her garden with training from Millennium Promise and will sell the honey for added income.
In 2010 alone, Jennifer and fellow residents of Sauri raised more than 750,000 tree seedlings and planted more than 25,000 as part of a hilltop restoration program. These activities offer a vital source of income while replenishing the local environment. Through her various business ventures, Jennifer is saving for the future and building a better life for her and her children.