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Empowering Kenyan farm workers and their families

27 June 2023

Empowering Kenyan farm workers and their families

Mother of three, Beth Wanjiru Mwangi, was facing a worrying situation. Her salary from stringing runner beans at Ontilili farm, part of Waitrose's supply chain in Nanyuki, Kenya, only covered her children’s school fees. As a result, Beth was forced to rely on her husband’s unpredictable bodaboda (motorbike transport) business for her family’s food and other basic needs. However sometimes, his business didn't make any money in a day.

Eager to secure a better future for his struggling family, Beth’s eldest son who was studying information and communication technology (ICT) at the nearby school decided to take on casual work at Ontilili farm during his school holidays to help his mother with the hefty school fees.

“I felt like I had failed as a mother when my son started working for his school fees,” said Beth.

However, when she learned about the Waitrose Foundation bursary in April 2022, Beth was among the first people to apply. And just two weeks later, she received a grant of KSH (Kenyan shilling) 22,000 (£145).

Together, the Waitrose Foundation and Farm Africa work to improve the lives of vegetable and flower farmers and workers on farms in the Waitrose supply chain in Kenya, supporting those that grow, pick and pack Waitrose’s fresh produce.

“I was very happy and I am still very grateful to Waitrose. When I told my son about the bursary, he said: ‘Wow, mum, who are those good people at KHE doing this?’” said Beth.

The bursary provided Beth and her family with immediate financial relief – that month she was able to buy food and replace her children’s threadbare clothes and shoes.

Her son has since completed his studies and is now job hunting. Beth has seen other farm workers benefit greatly from bursaries and hopes that more farm workers in need are provided with similar opportunities.

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