A Look at Our Incredible Women: Meet Dorothy Otieno

By Davina Ngei 

Edited by Linda Davis PhD and Maureen Onyango

Dorothy is the founder of Nyalore Impact, a social enterprise based in Homa Bay in western Kenya, that specializes in the sale of improved cookstoves, as well as the production and sale of briquettes. Dorothy was introduced to improved cookstoves and fuels in 2014, by her son who had noticed the struggles she experienced using charcoal for cooking. While she was immediately intrigued by the idea of distributing briquettes, her first sales demonstration at a hotel went horribly wrong. During the demonstration the entire hotel kitchen was blanketed in smoke. This experience bolstered her resolve to learn everything she could about the opportunities in producing and distributing improved cookstoves and briquettes. After registering her company in 2016, Dorothy begun distributing her products in Homa Bay and the neighbouring Migori county.

As her business grew, Dorothy was eager to learn how to expand her market reach; in the face of stiff competition from manufacturer’s who sold directly to the market and minimal awareness of alternative cooking technologies in rural communities. Through support from wPOWER, Dorothy is receiving mentorship tailored towards improving her business model, management and leadership skills.

Dorothy Otieno at her shop, Nyalore Impact, in Homa Bay town, Kenya

Mentorship

Dorothy has been paired with Jutta from Germany, who is providing the support and encouragement needed to finalize her business plan, which will guide her growth strategy for the next few years. While Dorothy had already begun writing the business plan prior to joining the mentorship program, she experienced difficulty in identifying the right business model for cookstove distribution. With Jutta’s help, Dorothy has begun to review her business model, ensuring that she has a solid business case to present to potential investors for the future growth of her enterprise.

Additionally, she is receiving support on operating a new briquette manufacturing factory based locally, which aims to resolve the problem of inconsistent supply and quality variabilities of the fuel sourced from third parties. Dorothy hopes that her appointment by Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) as a briquette production manager in the factory will help increase access to alternative fuels for rural women who need these fuels the most, while also generating stable employment for women in the community

 

“How else do I prove that I’m a social entrepreneur if I don’t positively impact my community, grow my business and achieve success? Nothing should hinder me from achieving what I want. My advice to other women entrepreneurs is to remain focused and determined, especially in the face of stiff competition and an ever changing business environment.”