Kijabe Environmental Volunteers (KENVO) and Jitunze Self Help Group are autonomous groups found in very different parts of Kenya, but they have a lot in common. Both grassroots groups were started by ambitious youth who are trying to help their peers earn a living through environmental conservation to create employment opportunities that are compatible with conservation.Both groups operated as self help groups, in spite of potential for commercialization. Both been centrally involved in conservation activities in their localities and coincidentally, their activities hinge heavily on forests. Their journeys have been marked with struggles and insubstantial accomplishments, with a high-turnover in membership as members tire of volunteering for extended periods.
KENVO, of the Kijabe-Naivasha area, aims to tap into the tourist market. Jitunze, from the Western part of Mt. Kenya, aims to profit from the trout market.
Both groups had basic strategies on how to actualize their business ambitions but were uncertain on how to proceed. With pre-award and post award mentoring and training from PACT Kenya, the groups have been able to grow their business plans and have begun to think strategically and creatively. Both groups have adopted private sector practices to increase their competitiveness and are orienting themselves towards mainstream markets.
Jitunze plans to build a trout processing facility, to become a supplier of inputs. Jitunze is seeking to supply major retail chains within Kenya and East Africa with their brand, Mt. Kenya Trout.
KENVO plans to develop the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest region into a leading tourist destination, to provide steady employment for the local community.
Through the KCSSP, the 2 groups are building as they mature. KENVO is constructing 3 accommodation units, a kitchen and dining unit and a nature trail. Jitunze is building a trout fish hatchery building, office, and an access road.
It is a time of metamorphosis for these two groups; metamorphosis from being novices in the business arena into being the next crop of substantial players in the market place.