Updated: Dec 23, 2021
We are so excited to introduce you to our second cohort of RISE Fellows! Meet Branice Tatu, a social entrepreneur working to improve access to hygiene in Western Kenya. She is a community health worker and the founder of the Uwezo Women Project (UWP). Her social enterprise supports teenage mothers and victims of gender-based violence through dignified employment. These women have been trained to make and sell liquid soap, hand sanitizers and reusable pads to their community.
So far, Branice has employed 30 women and 10 volunteers. Her employees participate in trainings such as marketing, communications and inventory recording to support them to successfully run small businesses. These women not only are given the means to become financially independent, but their work will have long term benefits for their communities' health.
"Branice, can you share with our community more about yourself? What were you doing before your entrepreneurial journey?"
I am also a human rights activist passionate about human rights, democracy and governance. Before founding UWP, I was a student leader at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. I have actively participated in democratic processes both at the county and national levels. Alongside my work at UWP, I am also a youth policy advocate for sexual reproductive health rights. This work has provided me with political governance skills which have enabled me to engage with policymakers effectively.
In June 2019, I was also part of the group that founded the Kenya Social Justice Community Based Organisation (KSJ CBO). This came about after realizing that the majority of women are unable to participate in politics in Western Kenya. We understood that there was a need to engage women at the grassroot level, so through our work at KSJ CBO, we provide training to inform the women of their rights, empowering them to use their voice to create the changes that they want to see.
"Can you tell us more about your work at UWP?"
In Kenya, women and girls are traditionally responsible for their domestic water supply and maintaining a hygienic household environment. Women are often required to travel long distances in dangerous conditions to collect water for handwashing and other needs.
Significant gaps in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health facilities in Kenya compromise healthcare safety and quality for women and newborns. Clean birth practices, including handwashing with soap for mothers and birth attendants, can increase newborn survival rates by up to 44%. The Uwezo Women Project will provide access to basic hygiene which will help children and women avoid deadly illnesses including diarrhoea and pneumonia.
"What do you hope to gain from this experience?"
I want to inspire and advocate for safe spaces for women. Through the RISE Fellowship, I am excited to bring women from underserved communities together. These women will gain financial empowerment, allowing them to invest in themselves, their families and their broader community. I am looking forward to gaining new skills as a result of the mentorship; this will help me to build my own capacity and in turn, reach more women in underserved communities.
Bring soap to Kenya today by selecting to support Branice on our donation page. Help her to in her fight to combat preventable illnesses, such as COVID-19, in marginalized communities.