Noombabali is a 37 year old empowered leader in Olesere, Masai Mara, Kenya.

Empowering women into change agents

“The forgotten village” is what Olesere was called. It was once a village that no one wanted to stay in, and most people would just go through it to their other villages. Now that has changed.

It is characterized by strong winds, that carry dust that sweeps over widely scattered manyattas. The small market looks deserted with countable iron sheet structures and a few buildings for shops and accommodation. There is only one major school and clinic that provides education and health services. Clearly, no one wants to stay and do business in this village.

For the 37 year old Noombabali Soit, it is a totally different story as she has made a life in this village and has made it a land of possibilities for herself and her family. As we arrived, she is with a friend who is eager to learn about the Solar systems that Soit sells as a solar agent.

They quickly get into the shop so that Soit can show her friend how it works and its benefits. This is part of Soit’s work as a solar agent under the social franchising program.

The program is meant to complement the incomes of the ladies by selling the solar systems from bright, clean cookstoves and water filters as a way of encouraging the use of renewable energy.  

When they are done with the training, we walk through the long grass with her friend to her house, which is only a kilometer from her home. She is received by two boys who quickly give us seats in the home.  

With a wide smile from ear to ear with a gap that is easily noticed, she breaks the silence and states, “Besides owning a shop and being a solar agent, I am a proud married and mother of 3 children of 20 year old married girl, 15 year old in class 8, and 12 year old in class 5.” 

“I got married at 16 years of age” she stated as she looked down in sadness. “This was a decision made for me when I dropped out of school in grade 6.” Back then, education was of no importance like today. “As a married woman, I was only confined to be a housewife and would start with getting up early to milk cows, prepare tea for the children then take livestock to graze.” She stated with relief in her voice.


This is part of Soit’s work as a solar agent under the social franchising program. 


The program is meant to complement the incomes of the ladies by selling the solar systems from bright, clean cookstoves and water filters.

Joining saving groups

“One day a group of people came to our village talking about savings groups and the opportunity to start and own a business.” Soit stated. Although this would change the status quo for most of the ladies in Masai Mara based on traditions and cultures that keep women confined to housework, Soit could not let this amazing opportunity pass her by. 

“I quickly talked to my husband and he was supportive, so I signed up” she stated with excitement. Soit was among the first ladies that were trained under the community managed saving groups program. In the groups, she learnt about time management, how to save, start and manage a business besides other life skills in the program.

More benefits from a changed life

“I bought a water tank for rain harvesting so I don’t have to go long distances looking for water.” She stated with joy. The friend quickly interjects and states, “she is also chairlady for the Board of management for Olesere primary school, sits on the water committee project and apart of the savings groups program in Olesere village.” In the saving groups, through the life skills sessions women are taught on their rights and role they can play in their community.

This has empowered Soit to break the boundaries of women being confined to just housework and not being given a chance to serve their community through leadership. She attributes her success to the being a first learners and intelligent, gets involved easily and a people person that easily gains their trust.

My dream is to build a bigger house with my husband and help my children get the best education until their finish school.

Programs like community managed saving groups, have the power to change the narratives of communities and their people. It empowers them to break long rooted cultural boundaries and provides opportunities for women to realize their abilities and be a part of building their communities both socially and economically.

Soit now is able to support and inspire her children.