Q&A with a tea farmer: Rose invests for long-term savings

By Sarah Fox

For Rose Muturi, learning more about financial literacy is a family business.

“Women are literally the home,” she says. “They take on the responsibilities of taking care of the family, so it’s better if women have this information that will help them take care of their responsibilities.”

Muturi is a supervisor at a tea farm in Limuru, Kenya. She recently started taking classes on financial management right in the fields where she works. The program, created through a partnership with WE and Lipton Tea, is giving tea workers biweekly training on topics like budgeting, saving, investment and business planning.

For the women working on the tea farm, the opportunity is unique. “Eventually, people will leave the company, but they will always be armed with that knowledge, which puts them in a better position to implement that knowledge in their homes.”

The training is putting skills and strategies behind each woman’s ambition and ingenuity outside the workplace, and since the classes started last spring it has already sparked a handknit clothing business. Another one of Muturi’s co-workers and classmates has rented a plot of land to pursue her dream of growing and selling her own local produce.

For Muturi, who already had some knowledge of financial management walking into the program, the takeaway is how to better invest her income. Since starting the training, Muturi bought a calf that will one day produce milk she can sell to her neighbours, and now she’s embarking on a jewellery venture with her daughter, who is in her first year of university.

Sitting across from the WE reporter in Kenya, Muturi explains how teaching her daughter these practical lessons in financial literacy is the start of a brewing ripple effect.

Q&A with Rose Muturi

Why is it so important to you to pass on these lessons in financial literacy to your daughter?

Not everyone has this information, and it’s easier for women to spread the message to their communities once they have this knowledge. I passed it on to my daughter. She will learn to be financially independent early on in life. She will probably pass it on to other women.

Why is it important for a woman to be financially independent and know how to manage their money?

A woman is usually the one who has to follow up on school fees, food for the house and make sure the family is okay. Having this information will enable her to know how to save and how to manage money—to have something for the time when the money coming in might not be enough.

How was your daughter an inspiration for your jewellery business?

When the trainings first started, I told my daughter about the life skills, and I asked her, “What would you like to do?” Because my daughter always showed talent in creating jewellery, she said, “I think I’ll like to do that.” The first month I gave my daughter part of my salary to go and buy supplies to make the jewellery. So that’s how it started. We now sell around here, and people are getting to know the work and the beautiful jewellery we’re able to sell.

When you look to the future, what is a big goal you want to accomplish with these trainings?

I don’t want to work until retirement. I want to have my own businesses, and I love farming. I decided to buy a calf, and when the cow is big it will be another way to earn an income, through selling milk. I want to have more cows, plant corns and vegetables, so I can be my own boss of my own business—to be a manager of my own projects.

This interview has been condensed and edited from a translation. 

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