Tom Brown: Supporting Women, Children and Rural Communities in Nigeria

Self Help AfricaAgriculture & Nutrition, Gender, News, West Africa

Nigerian women holding a plate of Tom Brown

Women from Kasev Mbaageh Association, in Vandeikya, Benue state, Nigeria.

Tom Brown is a traditional Nigerian food supplement made with a combination of different cereals and locally sourced agricultural products like soya beans, millet, corn and groundnuts. The grains are then fried, dried, roasted and blended down into a powder.

The name ‘Tom Brown’ is thought to have emerged because the mix is intended to ‘turn brown’ during the cooking process.

Tom Brown is usually eaten for breakfast, often as a porridge. Its high nutritional content makes it especially beneficial for infants, young children and breastfeeding women to prevent malnutrition and to support weight gain. Solutions such as Tom Brown can help prevent millions of children across Nigeria experiencing malnutrition. 

Self Help Africa’s Women Business Centres (WBCs) were established to increase entrepreneurial skills, increase knowledge on health and wellbeing and enhance access to digital tools for rural women. Over 400 women across our 20 WBCs in Nigeria have been trained in the production of Tom Brown as the ingredients to prepare it are locally produced in communities. This supports increased productivity and reduces post-harvest losses. 

“Due to the training I received here, I know how to talk to the customers and draw their attention to the goods that I have” explains Bridget Beekombo from Vandeikya Women’s Group who produces, consumes and sells Tom Brown. “It can boost your energy and appetite for food, especially for people in hospital, it’s very good for them” she adds.

This approach, of training women in Tom Brown production, will ensure that we continue to build the capacity and resilience of rural communities in Nigeria to address the food and climate crises using a women-led social enterprise model.

Learn more about our Women Business Centres here.