YAP Proposal #173: Changing lives one hen at a time (James Makini, Kenya)

MakiniJames_One Hen Campaign Project Co-founders (in Leather Jackets) presenting a hen in a coop to pupil looking on is livestock officer from Kisii County Government

My name is James Makini from Keroka, Kenya. I am 28 years old. When I was 8 years old I went to greet my grandmother, who gave me a gift of a hen. I raised it, and with the help of our neighbors cock, it laid fertilized eggs and hatched them into chicks.

As the hens multiplied, I began to sell eggs to buy stationery, rebuild our hut and pay for my school fees and uniform. Little did I know that 15 years later I would share my experiences with three of my colleagues at the University of Nairobi one evening after unsuccessfully searching for an internship. Everybody said, “Wow! Why can’t we start a poultry-keeping initiative in rural areas in Kenya that will empower youth, women and children?”

Our hope was that the project would help them be able to afford basic needs like I did when I was young. We called the initiative “One Hen Campaign Project.” The aim is to train women and youth to organize in groups on entrepreneurship, agribusiness and poultry management for a month. Then we give each group member one hen in a coop that he/she is required to rear as part of the training.

At the end of the year, after the hens have multiplied, each member returns 2 hens to their group so that other members can benefit.

MakiniJames_One Hen Campaign Project Beneficiaries graduation day
One Hen Project graduation ceremony

For children, the approach is through schools where we mentor and train them to embrace agriculture at an early age. The average age of a Kenyan farmer is above 50 years, and the 2009 census shows that out of a population of approximately 38 million people, youth (15-35 years) and children (0-14 years) together represent 78%. This huge proportion of the Kenyan population has not embraced farming, which is a big threat to food security in Kenya.

We give each pupil one hen in a coop which they rear as a co-curricular activity. At the end of the year they are required to return 2 hens so that those following them can also benefit.

This program will not only provide a source of income and nutrition for participants’ families, the students and pupils will learn basic entrepreneurial skills, applied math, financial management skills, personal initiative, the value of saving and a sense of social responsibility as they become the sponsors of subsequent years of the program.

So far the One Hen Project has created:

  • Self-employment for youth and women and a source of income
  • A source of food security
  • A reduction in dependency ratios as almost every member of a family is economically active

The project has enabled the maximization of use of small land sizes as chicken rearing requires little space. It has also enabled the imparting of basic financial skills to beneficiaries. Members can now maintain business records thanks to our financial management training and seminars.

The One Hen Project has been given global recognition; In 2014 I was among the inaugural team of President Obama’s Mandela Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Finally, the project has created opportunities along the poultry value chain and together with all our beneficiaries we formed a chicken farmers’ cooperative society to jointly market our produce (chicken, eggs and chicken manure). We have also started making our own feed for our chicken and selling it to other farmers in rural Kenya. This activity has already been certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

We hope to win the USD $5,000 grant as it will enable us give another 500 youth, women and children a hen in a coop which they will raise and then use to support other beneficiaries as the chickens multiply. We will use the $5,000 as follows:

  • Buying nails, wire-mesh and timber for making a complete coop will cost us $6 per coop. We aim to make 500 coops, which will cost a total of $3,000
  • Buying 500 hens at $4 per hen for a total of $2,000

We look forward to finding investors to help us expand our enterprise through supporting our feed mill, opening up our distribution network and helping us set up a chicken meat abattoir.

Blogpost and picture submitted by James Makini (Keroka, Kenya) – jamesmakini[at]gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #173 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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1,694 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #173: Changing lives one hen at a time (James Makini, Kenya)

  1. This is a nice project that if well facilitated can have huge impact on the society as well as individual households. The benefits associated with the one hen project are immense. It has a simple ideology and can be replicated. Bravo mr James makini and the entire team of one hen campaign project.

  2. This is great! Thank you Mr.James Makini and the entire team of one hen project for empowering youths and women to be self reliant.By now we are looking forward to join hands and together we eradicate poverty

  3. Congratulations guys for your recognition by President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). You are a true role model.

  4. woh James makini this are great ideas to youths they can bring a great impact to the society at large.

  5. Was there an impact evaluation? What is the impact from nurturing hens? On income? On other aspects of well being?

  6. Its a bold yet a practical project.We live and love it because is has improved peoples” living standards in rural areas hence accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals particularly poverty alleviation

  7. woh this are really great ideas to youths and women and they can bring a great impact in the society.as it brings the intuition of mind set ideas to many job seekers in Kenya today. good work Mr makini

  8. Rearing of chicken has really changed lives in the rural areas whereby even young children are providing for themselves.Keep up James and your group

  9. Many youth groups have put the ideas into practice and they are doing well.Continue with the same spirit

  10. We appreciate that you found it necessary to set up a demonstration poultry house in our village

  11. i like this project. people have improved in farming especially using the chicken droppings in their farm. great idea

  12. am really impressed. if i can be advised by young men and make my life worthy living this far then i should say thank you. keep up

  13. am a proud father. my son came with a hen and now we have ten. he sells the eggs saying “we were told by one hen that we should sell two eggs and buy story books ” great work

  14. on behalf of Riakimai women group we are so grateful. we are now aiming top chamas in Kenya from poultry farming. thanks to OHC

  15. one hen indeed has changed my thinking. with my bodaboda profit i started poultry and now my part time job is my first job. poultry has my time now. my income my fee

  16. days of our lives with OHC are really beautiful. i keeps chickens i get fertilizer. economy is really good

  17. supply us with cages in St.Loise primary. the chicks you gave to our students have become many with no safe cages

  18. with the bird my daughter brought home from school(Nyatieko primary) we never lack an option to pay fees and buy food. kindly offer us with one bigger cage.

  19. experience has brought the best in you guys. OHC has now a way to make cages and feeds. interesting

  20. this project has been so helpful to us youth. please revisit our grou. we are increasing daily and cages are becoming scarce

  21. one hen has made my farming easier. am given all at once. feeds, eggs, chicks and cages what a way to be stable economically

  22. impressively good work done. supply as with more feeds and more cages at Gianchere primary school women group