Emmastellar Wangui Gakuo, 25

Chief Operating Officer

Savanna Circuit

It all started like an academic exercise.

Emmastellar and one of her college-mates from Rongo University, Percy Lumtukei, 29, were tasked with enumerating the problems faced in a local community and formulate practicable solutions.

Today, what started as a search for grades, has seen them set up a milk factory that is on the verge of transforming lives in 17 marginalised counties.

Emmastellar was undertaking a communication and media studies course while Percy was completing his Informatics degree when they launched a pilot in West Pokot using a motorcycle carrying a-60 litre milk tank that was connected to a solar-powered chiller.

"“The saddest realisation is that farmwork is largely done by women but payments are collected by men...""

Two years later, they are set for roll-out across 17 counties after a successful pilot in Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot counties, where 8,400 dairy farmers sold 800,000 litres of milk through the duo’s firm, Savanna Circuit.

The two created an end-to-end milk receipting platform that sees all deliveries recorded automatically upon collection and a short text message sent to each farmer’s phone.

“We realised farmers enjoyed higher incomes due to low wastage with the simple transport system helping improve the quality of milk delivered to the bulk collection centre,” she says.

The project, which recently received a Sh13 million grant from the UK government has established a manufacturing plant for its motorcycle-powered 100-litre and 300-litre milk coolers with the initial 20 units sent to four co-operative societies.

According to Emmastellar, the firm’s 100-litre tank prototypes have been approved by regulators and the company has acquired a parcel of land where it intends to set up a manufacturing base for their patented products.

“The saddest realisation is that farmwork is largely done by women but payments are collected by men.

But women now influence decisions on purchase of better dairy breeds and increased adoption of artificial insemination services,” says Emmastellar.

–James Kariuki