Change hatched from chickens
Tanzanian Elizabeth Swai is one of the finalists in the Individual Award for Drivers of Change. Her business, AKM Glitter Company, specialises in poultry farming and has a number of hatcheries that provide day-old chicks and fresh eggs to market. Her work has played a pivotal role in creating a network of more than 100 farmer groups and she is an inspiration to others, having overcome great odds to get to where she is today.
“This is my passion and a huge part of my life; I wanted to develop a model that could have a positive effect on Africa and to empower our youth,” says Swai. “Their household health and their education is improved through our work and some of the profits are being used to help develop rural areas so children have clean water, classrooms, toilets and access to basic facilities. It is important to me to be able to make a sustainable difference to the lives of others.”
Swai is a self-starter who used personal funds and family loans to finance her business. She put every ounce of effort into its development and spent many hours learning about the poultry industry and the challenges that it could present. Thanks to her focus and determination she now has a thriving poultry enterprise that has expanded its operations and included other small-scale farmers in its supply chain.
Alongside her burgeoning business, Swai has developed a number of farmer groups where she provides training and support so they can start rearing their own chickens. In return, she purchases eggs from these farmers and sells them at the market. Many of these groups have grown as a result of this collaboration, and can now take their own produce to market without her aid.
Swai works closely with the government, particularly with the ministry of agriculture and the local municipalities, as part of her overarching goal to redress gaps in the market, alleviate poverty and bring about change. She collaborates with municipalities in training their extension workers in poultry farming so they can provide support to the farmer groups.
In addition to this impressive workload, Swai is the founder of the Africa Agribusiness Academy in Tanzania where she uses the expertise of scientists, researchers and other experts in the poultry industry to further the training and understanding of others. She is also the head of the African Women in Agribusiness chapter in Tanzania, a Graça Machel Trust initiative, and continues to find ways of developing her business, helping others and bringing about positive change.
“I see the women report back good things: that their children go to school and have better nutrition,” says Swai. “We can see the changes in their confidence and health and this keeps me going.”