Kenya's Second Lady Rachel Ruto is amongst many things a farmer, a Kiswahili teacher, trendsetter, prayer warrior and a general envoy of peace and 'agripreneurship'.
She is the founder of Joyful Women Organization (JOYWO), an NGO that generates champions for the welfare of women through various poverty-alleviating initiatives.
According to the organization's website, JOYWO was founded to empower Kenyan women economically and enhance household food security through supporting their involvement in sustainable livelihood projects.
Rachel, while giving a tour of her farm to a Citizen TV journalist in 2014, intimated that she founded JOYWO after seeing what poverty was doing to the confidence and self-esteem of the women around her.
Being a keen farmer herself, she told the journalist that their Sugoi farm was one of the places where the JOYWO initiative took root.
"We produce 2,500 eggs a day, and all these eggs are put in an incubator where they generate day-old chicks after 18 days. The chicks are then supplied to farmers and members of JOYWO who rear them and once they start laying eggs, the women supply them to various places," she narrated.
While she started with farming, she narrated that the organization was not all about farming, but it was the central activity, given that many of the women benefitting from the project were rural women.
The organisation has undergone transformations to provide table banking services as well.
JOYWO’S flagship project was providing financial resources to women to engage in livelihood projects through a scheme known as Table Banking, an initiative that was launched a year after 2013 General Elections that the Jubilee party won.
"JOYWO was started in the year 2009 and by 2017, it had a membership of over 200,000 members in more than 12,000 groups revolving over Ksh2.7 billion," reads a statement from the NGO's website.
JOYWO is also reported to have trained more than 4,000 women on public procurement, directly leading to the registration of more than 700 companies.
Its membership is spread across all 47 counties in Kenya. The organization’s headquarters is in Nairobi but it has offices in the counties ran by county managers and program officers. Currently, JOYWO has more than 400 employees.
The organization also boasts capacity building programs, women have been empowered with information on modern farming techniques, latest information & technology products and entrepreneurial skills.
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