A place to trade in Kenya

When Veronica Nalari Lengirnas opened her business at Oldonyiro market in northern Kenya 20 years ago, she sold just one bag of flour each week.

Today, Veronica is one of the busiest traders in the market. She sells flour, maize, sugar and beans. “We used to sell our goods, scorching under the sun,” she says. “Now we are under the shade, happy.”

In 2015, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered with the government of Kenya to revitalize Oldonyiro market, attracting traders with better security, health and business services, a drought warning system and a roof providing shade.

Smiling woman carrying sack of flour on her back from large truck (Bobby Neptune/USAID)
A U.S.-backed program called Feed the Future helped Veronica Nalari Lengirnas overcome barriers and sell more goods. (Bobby Neptune/USAID)

USAID has also helped women like Veronica connect to growing markets in drought-prone northern Kenya. The women are leaders in breaking the cycles of poverty, hunger and malnutrition that have gripped the region for decades.

Veronica and her fellow women traders faced unique challenges to growing their businesses in this male-dominated marketplace. “We would sell on the sidelines of the market,” she says.

Through Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, USAID helped Veronica and other women overcome these barriers.

People in colorful clothing shopping for goods laid out on the ground (Bobby Neptune/USAID)
Oldonyiro is a bustling marketplace in Kenya. (Bobby Neptune/USAID)

With a safe and reliable place to trade, more women like Veronica can grow their businesses.

Veronica got a $300 loan to expand her business and paid it back after five months. She used the profit from her business to buy a car to deliver more goods to the market and boost her income.

Veronica helped start a savings group with other women to pool their money to open new businesses and better provide for their families, especially in times of need.

Left photo: Women in a small group talking at a market. Right photo: Hands holding out coins (Bobby Neptune/USAID)
Veronica and other women traders at the Oldonyiro market have helped each other expand their businesses and better provide for their families. (Bobby Neptune/USAID)

“That is why the market has many women [now],” says Veronica. “They are trying to improve their children’s lives.”

A longer version of this article is available from USAID.