Enjoying the dairy grind

Susan Muteti started farming in 2017 in Kalamba Centre in Makueni County. She carved out a niche for herself as she was the only dairy farmer in the area amidst many other vegetable producers. “I started with 3 cows and tried to rear them for milk production but I was unsuccessful. I did not earn as much in sales as I had envisioned and I quickly lost interest. I tried my hand in chicken rearing but decided to retain the chicken for my home use.”

Susan decided to maximize her resources and boost her income stream. Coincidentally, Kilimo SACCO had just partnered with Swisscontact to increase the capacities of their members, staff and their board. As a result of the training, Kilimo SACCO developed different products to appeal to their different clients. “I’ve been a SACCO member since 2012 and when I heard about the microleasing concept, I got interested. I managed to buy more cows since they were considered ‘productive assets’ and took advantage of the husbandry training provided through the SACCO by Swisscontact. I learnt so much and do not regret my decision to go back to cattle rearing,” Susan comments.

Through microleasing, Susan has been able to methodically get eight more cows. She now owns 11 Friesian cows which give her a constant milk supply, fertilizer and heifers which she often puts up for sale. She still retains her chicken to feed her children and grandchildren. Susan strategically placed her dairy shop at the front of her house to reduce her operational costs. “I realised many locals prefer fresh rather than processed milk and were willing to pay extra for a constant supply. I used that to my advantage and ensured my cows are well fed and produce a lot of milk. Today, I earn about CHF 50 a day from the milk sales which I make 7 days a week. I have been able to hire and train two workers to tend to the cows and I pay them CHF 100 a month. I used my profit to purchase a milking machine which helps me carry on with production even when my workers are away.”

Susan is positive about her direction and can face her future with a steadfast heart. She advises those interested in venturing into dairy farming. “Farmers should access loans from cooperatives rather than banks since the payment terms are better and they understand our needs. Despite dairy farming having its fair share of challenges, I do not regret venturing into it. It’s my main source of income today.”

Susan aspires to own 50 -100 cows in the next 5 years and to start processing, packaging and distributing to a larger area.

The Inclusive Finance Programme (IFP) was financed by Stiftung ESPERANZA, Credit Suisse Foundation, Kanton Basel–Landschaft, Kanton Zurich, Stadt Zurich, among others, and was part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which was co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).