I am Phenny Adhiambo Omondi. I am 20 years old, female and currently a junior at EARTH University, Costa Rica where I study Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resource Management. My career interests include community development, social entrepreneurship, and food security for rural and marginalized urban communities, renewable energy and environmental conservation. I grew in a rural farm in the Western part of Kenya where subsistence agriculture was the main source of income, food and cultural identity. My family earns a living from farming food crops and raising animals on our farm. Over the years, I have learnt and appreciated the impact that small scale businesses managed by farmers have on the communities. These businesses include selling fresh farm products and adding value to farm produce. I have been the Finance Manager and a business partner at a student-founded business project on campus. We focused on fruit pulp processing and value addition through infusions of medicinal plants and vegetables found in the tropics. Our business had a strong social focus since the fruit we processed into pulp was bought from local farmers who could not access their markets due to extremely high standards established for exportation. I did not only learn how to work in a multicultural business environment but also the importance and the role that the entrepreneurs play in improving the lives of the small-scale farmers through food processing and value addition. I have also had the opportunity to work in designing a business model on urban agriculture for crowded urban neighborhoods. I am a business partner at Kenya Youth for Circular Economy (KYCE), which is a project that integrates: employment, sanitation; food and energy security for Kibera slums. I work directly with food production systems such as hydroponics to satisfy the food demand of the slum communities and hence food security. The surplus production from the urban gardens is sold to the other city dwellers to earn income. This reduces the amount of food bought from the countryside and the carbon emissions related to it. Our biogas production unit converts the organic wastes into biogas for cooking and heating, thereby reducing the global warming threat posed by methane gas since this is burnt to produce energy. I have, since 2012, worked as a founder of the Dophia Group, which is a family social enterprise that trains small scale farmers on sustainable agricultural practices such as agroforestry, minimum tillage and integrated farming systems. This is also my give back commitment project as the MasterCard Foundation scholar. We currently have an integrated farm that we use for production and training of local farmers from the neighboring villages. I have incorporated biodigesters as a special topic in the training sessions to give hands-on skills on how to produce biogas from cow dung and other organic wastes as well as how to utilize bio slurry from the biodigesters to fertilizer food crops. We currently work with a network of 80 farmers, 60% of which are women.
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