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From welfare to entrepreneurs Kenyan lecturer wins writers' competition

Nairobi - Regina Kagera, a lecturer at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, has won the second Intermediate Technology Small Enterprise Development Journal writers' competition.

Her article "From Welfare to Small-scale business in Kenya" looked at how traditional women's groups in Kenya enable women to move from survival-based activities, such as casual labour, to fullyfledged group enterprises, involving innovation, capital accumulation and risk-taking.

Small profits from the beginning of the group's activities were re-invested in traditional farming activities, such as goat-rearing, and when they were successful, they were sometimes followed by diversification into new areas identified by the group as having potential, such as brick making.

One group started with casual farm labour, and having gained confidence and savings, identified a local demand for bricks and building blocks, brought in previously from outside the area. The women discovered how to produce the bricks and blocks, and became the sole supplier in the area.

Another group started with church work and casual labour, before branching out by running an ox and plough contracting service. What Kagera demonstrates through these examples is the ability of such groups to perform the entrepreneurial functions of innovation, production, marketing, capital formation and reinvestment.