SHOPS Plus, Twinings to increase access to family planning services for female smallholder farmers
In 2018 SHOPS Plus partnered with Twinings to pilot an innovative model to sustainably expand access to health products and services for women in the company’s Kenyan supply chain. On October 12, 2020, SHOPS Plus, Twinings, and other local partners, launched the refurbished Chepsire Health Dispensary, a key first step to increasing access to health services for female smallholder farmers in Kenya.
Twinings, an English company, has long been committed to improving the lives of the female workers from whom it sources its tea leaves. Since 2015 the company has implemented the HERHealth program, which aims to improve knowledge and awareness of health issues using peer educators. They seek to build on this effort by partnering with SHOPS Plus to expand access to sustainable health services for female small holder farmers and their children, especially reproductive health and family planning services.
This corporate engagement initiative relies heavily on local ownership to ensure the sustainability of the pilot activities and provide the opportunity for scale-up.
Identifying the need for increased access to health products and services in Kenya
Women make up 50 percent of the agriculture workforce in Kenya. However, SHOPS Plus found that female small holder farmers face several obstacles to accessing healthcare. Desired products and services are often not available at nearby facilities, and traveling to better equipped facilities can take significant time and financial cost. In addition, husbands typically control the bank account in which women’s tea income is deposited, meaning that women often don’t have access to cash when they need it.
Developing a pilot model to sustainably increase healthcare access
Having identified the unmet needs and barriers, SHOPS Plus and Twinings set out to create a pilot model to achieve increased access to healthcare. To ensure the pilot’s sustainability, SHOPS Plus and Twinings brought in diverse local partners to co-design and co-implement the pilot model. The local partners include social enterprise Afya Research Africa, smallholder farmer cooperative Sireet Outgrowers Empowerment & Producer Co Ltd., tea producer Eastern Produce Kenya, the Nandi County government, and community groups. This multi-stakeholder participation is integral to achieving success in the pilot and for future sustainability. Local partners have already contributed resources to expand the capacity of the community health facility.
The pilot model will strengthen an existing women’s group (called a chamaa) in Nandi County by introducing small enterprises in its community, such as mobile banking services. A portion of the revenue from the enterprises will directly support the local health facility. After covering health needs, enterprise profits provide additional income for the women. At the same time, the women’s group participates in the facility oversight committee, giving it a formal role to ensure the health facility is providing quality care that is responsive to community needs.
Corporate engagement sets stage for meaningful impact
SHOPS Plus’s partnership with Twinings has presented the opportunity to create and test an innovative new model to increase healthcare access, developed with a strong emphasis on sustainability through local ownership. As Céline Gilart, the head of social impact at Twinings, explained, “The approach enables us to deliver our ambition to improve the lives of communities from which we source, by bringing healthcare expertise as well as an innovative model that has the potential for scale.”
Throughout the pilot, SHOPS Plus and Twinings will monitor key health and financial data, with an eye to replicate this model across tea sites in Kenya and beyond.