Conservation business works
NRT Trading is a for-profit social enterprise owned by NRT, whose mission is to identify, incubate, pilot and grow sustainable businesses within the NRT Conservancies.
In Northern Kenya, low literacy levels and sparse government services hamper economic growth. Poverty rates are high, and semi arid, often degraded landscapes constantly challenge the livelihoods of a largely pastoralist population. However, through community conservancies, people are now finding ways to link wildlife conservation to better pasture, higher income, and the growth of sustainable businesses. This is putting more children in school, empowering women through jobs and financial literacy, and building the capacity of rural communities to lift themselves out of poverty.
The Northern Rangelands Trust and NRT Trading
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) was established in 2004. Its mission is to develop resilient community conservancies which transform people’s lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources. By the end of 2014, there were 33 conservancies under the NRT umbrella, covering over 32,000 km2. These conservancies are managed by democratically elected boards, and are now legally recognised institutions. NRT raises funds for these conservancies, provides advice on how to manage affairs, and facilitates a wide range of training – from governance and security, to wildlife monitoring and peace building.
As the number of conservancies grew, so did the need for a more commercial arm of NRT – one that could support conservancies to earn revenue from their own, sustainable activities and reduce reliance on donor funding. NRT Trading was established as a limited company in 2014, and now supports the development of direct commercial revenue to communities in three main areas – livestock, beads, and tourism. The success of these programmes is now paving the way for communities to explore other emerging markets, such as fish, mangos and silk.