It would be easy to drive past Stephen's store without taking a second glance. On the outside, his stove production center is just another stucco building squished along the village skyline. Out front men and women loiter under their make-shift kiosks, hawking cabbage, bananas and avocados along the only street in town.
The sleepy village in central Kenya is relaxed and slow. But Stephen's production shop is not.
Weaving through his shop takes precision and tact. Nearly every square foot is filled to the brim with aluminum stove liners stacked to the ceiling. The clanging of hammers is a constant reminder to everyone in the agrarian village that Stephen's shop is booming, and he's bringing industry.
He's already outgrown this facility. So he bought a house across the street for his family and turned their backyard into an overflow area. There, hundreds of ceramic stove liners are laid out to dry in the sun.
He now spends his time jogging back-and-forth across the street. He'll apply a layer of paint on some, and then run back to make more liners. His wife, Naomi, works full-time, too. It has become a family affair.
Stephen has been in business for nine years. Last year, TAP helped to provide him with business training, machinery and knowledge of how to make a higher quality stove model. Our funding also helped link Stephen to retailers, who are now carrying his stoves in nearby villages.
His profits have increased dramatically to nearly $700 USD per month.
His income has grown, but so has his staff. This year he hired two more employees to add to his manufacturing team. Both boys were unemployed teenagers he found hanging out near his shop. Stephen thought they might make good apprentices.
One of those boys was David, a quiet teen who lives with his grandmother.
I asked him how this year has been for him. Stephen replied ecstatically, "It's uplifted my living, and also my workers."
He is a man with a big vision for the future and very specific goals. "I want to increase my production five times over, and then (I can) open retail shops throughout major towns in the Central Region. This way I will earn more profits which will enable me to invest and achieve financial success."
This year, The Adventure Project is helping Stephen by creating a credit lending system in his village, so everyone will be able to purchase his stoves.
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