Wycklyfe Mwanje’s posho mill sounds a lot like a lawnmower — its loud, mechanical chugging reverberates against the mud walls of the small shed where he keeps it. The machine, used for grinding maize, sputters a bit in the beginning, but it works surprisingly fast. The tiny kernels of grain poured into one side of the machine are soon streaming out as flour through a pipe on the other side.
Wycklyfe, 40, is an astute businessman, and the posho mill isn’t his only project. He also buys and sells livestock, and last year opened a butcher shop in nearby Kakamega to take advantage of the town’s large population of students, who are eager customers. To run all his businesses, Wycklyfe employs three full-time staff, in addition to a number of casual laborers who do various jobs around his farm, depending on the season.
Not long ago, Wycklyfe’s life looked drastically different. His only source of income was from his farm, which is about two acres in size. The land was fertile, but he didn’t use good planting techniques or improved seeds and fertilizer. As a result, he usually harvested around eight bags of maize a year, enough to pay school fees for his five children but with little income left over. During the leanest times of the year, the family would often run short of food and ration meals to get by until the next harvest.
Then in 2012, Wycklyfe heard about One Acre Fund. The organization supplied him with hybrid seeds and fertilizer and taught him how to space his crops and plant in rows. The increase in his harvest was astounding. Now, he regularly produces 50–60 bags of grain a year – about seven times more than he did before.
The change in his harvest now means that Wycklyfe can feed his family and pay school fees for his children, plus he’s been able to make improvements to his house and buy additional farmland. He’s also started building a local business empire. In addition to his mill, butchery, and livestock businesses, he also sells milk and vegetables produced on his farm. Recently, he bought building materials and began construction on several small rental houses near his home, which he hopes to rent out to students when the work is complete.
“Everything here started from One Acre Fund,” Wycklyfe says of his growing prosperity. “With dedication and hard work, it is possible to be very successful.”