- Their vision is one day to open their own factory and produce the cosmetic products in large numbers.
- The tourism sector is among the hard-hit in Malindi as the foreign market which the women and many others highly depended on collapsed due to the pandemic.
A group of women beach operators from Malindi have turned to manufacture coconut oil to earn a living following the dwindling tourism sector.
Baharini Women group which is composed of 39 members normally used to sell beach ware including clothes, curious, beads ornaments among other products, while others do massage claim business really, went down since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
The tourism sector is among the hard-hit in Malindi as the foreign market which the women and many others highly depended on collapsed due to the pandemic.
We caught up with them at their place of work producing the coconut oil which they then place on their shelves for sale to clients.
They say the coconut oil is good for massage and most local tourists who come have been asking for the product which forced them to begin producing right at the beach.
While at the beach it was clear that the decision to produce oil was wise because there are no tourists at all and through the initiative, they could get some money for survival.
Pili Kadzo a member of Baharini Women group showed journalists how they use three stone jikos to ‘cook’ coconut milk which in the end becomes coconut oil because they have limited resources.
“We have put coconut milk which boils and gives us the final product of coconut oil, what remains is not waste as it is used for scrabbing or butter,” she said.
Kadzo said at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic they began making multipurpose soap, jik, and Dettol.
She said they have been selling the products until they decided to add coconut oil which is made from coconuts.
Kadzo said they opted for coconut oil because the coconuts are easily available in the area because it is grown in the area.
“Our first customers are those who do massage here together with tourists from Nairobi and we believe we will be able to get income from it,” she said.
The beach operator said a bottle of 250 Ml of coconut oil goes for Sh150 while 500 ml is sold at Sh400. One liter is sold at Sh. 700.
Naomi Mkambe who is also a group member of Baharini women group said they began with 100 coconuts which produced five liters that if sold will enable them to get Sh3000.
She said they bought one coconut at Sh25 and they were able to get profit out of it.
“We appeal for well-wishers to come and support us so that we can increase stock or help us with marketing the coconut oil so that we can sell in large numbers,” she said.
Mkambe said they also need a good kitchen as people are complaining that the traditional kitchen is producing a lot of smoke.
She said they chose to do those products because the numbers of tourism are low and instead of sitting idle, they are able to get income.
Mkambe said they were enlightened by the Chairperson of Progress Welfare Association of Malindi (PWAM) Kate Mwikali who has been supporting them with innovative ideas since the Covid-19 pandemic struck and affected the tourism sector.
“When the Covid-19pandemic struck we had taken loans from Uwezo fund, banks and we could not pay back, it has really been a challenge because of financial constraints, some of our children who were in boarding were forced to go to day school, “she said.
Eunice Charo said the pandemic taught them so many things as initially they did not know what to do as there were no tourists but now, they have got a reason to smile due to the small initiatives of making soap and coconut oil.
Charo said she does massage and initially used coconut oil from the shop but has now realized that the coconut oil they make is better and loved by so many clients.
She also called on well-wishers to support them get a machine for manufacturing and stickers to market their coconut oil to enable them to sell in shops and supermarkets.
The Chairperson of PWAM said she came up with the idea to support the women with initiatives for the women as they are depended on by families and had been affected by the Pandemic.
She said they began supporting the women because they were going through a hard time and were best to help other family members.
Mwikali said coconut oil production was easy because it promotes coconut production which is doing well in the Coast as they can survive low rainfall when planted.
“My vision is for these women to have their own factory for making cosmetic products, which will then be sold in supermarkets under the name Baharini women coconut,” she said.
Maureen Awuor a Co-founder of PWAM said they were happy to see the women making oil right at the beach to earn a living after being highly affected by tourism.
She said for a long the women have been relying heavily on the tourism sector but due to Covid-19, it has been challenging for them to earn a living.
“By the virtue that they have been working with women in tourism we have been able to walk with them to show them how they can survive,” she said.