North East charity to invest £500,000 in African entrepreneurs to beat poverty

9 August 2019

Newcastle-based international development charity Traidcraft Exchange is to invest more than £500,000 in a new venture supporting rural Kenyan women to make the most of their entrepreneurial talent and overcome poverty.

Last year the charity’s ‘Hidden Entrepreneur’ appeal raised over £540,000 from the British public. This was then matched pound for pound by the UK Government through its UK Aid Match scheme to make a total of more than £1.1 million.

Half of the money will be targeted on Meru County in central Kenya to help 2,000 smallholders turn their farms into successful businesses. Three-quarters of these farmers are women.

“I have so many dreams that I have shelved for now – if I had extra income I’d be able to pursue them,” said Nasaama Koll who grows onions and tomatoes commercially.

1.5 million people live in Meru County and over 70% of farming households there live in poverty. Traidcraft Exchange is working with households living on around £2 a day.

The programme aims to create a network of ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ by boosting women farmers’ environmental and business skills, links with the private sector, and improving their collective organisation. As a result, Traidcraft Exchange anticipates a 50% increase in the incomes of those farmers targeted by the programme.

“If I could see a good market, I’d put a lot of effort into farming so that I could make a profit. The farm would be my office!” added Nasaama Koll.

Work began in September last year and the programme is expected to last until autumn 2021.

“We’d like to thank the British public whose donations have made this ground-breaking effort to create lasting solutions to poverty in rural Kenya possible,” said Maveen Pereira, Director of Programmes at Traidcraft Exchange.

“With the UK Government matching public donations pound for pound from the ‘Hidden Entrepreneur’ appeal we’re able to maximise our impact in all of our work,” added Maveen Pereira.


For more information or to interview Maveen Pereira please contact Mary Milne: / 020 3752 5718 or 07759 222201

Notes for editors:

  • Traidcraft Exchange is an international development charity which uses the power of trade to bring about lasting solutions to poverty. It runs development programmes in South Asia and Africa, works directly with businesses to improve their supply chains, and does advocacy and campaigning in the UK to promote justice and fairness in international trade. It works closely with specialist fair trade company Traidcraft plc. Traidcraft Exchange is a registered charity, no. 1048752:

  • The programme referred to above is called ‘Sustainable Agriculture and Women’s Advancement’ (SAWA). Further information can be found on the website:

  • The Hidden Entrepreneur appeal ran from 12th January to 11th April 2018.

  • The UK Aid Match scheme is run by the Department for International Development, and brings charities, the British public and the UK government together to collectively change the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. For every £1 donated to a selected charity appeal, the government will also contribute £1 of UK aid to enable the charity to go further in changing and saving lives, up to a total of £5 million per appeal. Organisations must be UK-based, non-governmental and not-for-profit and be running an appeal set to raise at least £100,000, within a 3 month appeal period. Donations must be from people (not businesses) living in the UK and go towards an eligible international development project. For further information and guidance, please visit

J McNaughton