This is the first half of the expanded version of the update I am making to Juhudi Kilimo borrowers on Kiva. I hope you enjoy it! I’ll be posting the remainder of the update in a few days.
Dear Kiva Lender,
Thanks for lending to a Juhudi Kilimo entrepreneur in Kenya through Kiva! If you are anything like me, you are always curious about how your borrower is doing, what their life is like, and what sort of difference a small loan can make. As a Kiva Fellow in Nairobi working with Juhudi Kilimo, I have witnessed the power of loans like yours to transform a life and I want to share with you what makes Juhudi special and one story of a Juhudi Kilimo borrower.
Juhudi Kilimo is Swahili, and means “effort(s)” and “agriculture”, which is a pretty nice summary for what they do. What really makes them special is their very practical solution to a common objection by traditional banks when loaning to the rural poor, which is the issue of collateral. No savings, no assets? No problem—the cow purchased with your loan is now your collateral. Their group specializes in services to smallholder farmers and rural enterprises through agricultural loans, including loans for livestock, agricultural equipment, and farm transportation. The efforts of Juhudi Kilimo are vital, because they provide services to people who are typically hard to reach for other financial institutions. Juhudi clients are poorer and farther away from the banks than typical bank clients. Because of the somewhat unpredictable nature of agriculture, where rain or the lack thereof can erase months of work, traditional lenders are sometimes unwilling to work with these clients, continuing their cycle of poverty. And it’s not just me that thinks Juhudi is pretty awesome: They were also just mentioned at the top 10% of B-Corporations “Best for the World” awards and were mentioned in Fast Company. With the financial assistance of loans like yours through Juhudi, these borrowers are able to diversify their income streams, add value, and increase their financial security.
Without doubt, visiting borrowers’ shambas (farms) has been the highlight of my months in Kenya. All of the farmers are gracious as I, a total stranger, walk onto their land and then proceeds to ask them all about their loans in order to complete our borrower verification. After finishing discussion of the loan, if there’s time we proceed to talk farming. Growing up in a family that loves to garden, these conversations are the favorite part of my visit. Francis quickly became one of my favorites when I realized just how much he know about the “why” of farming. He’s smart, he’s curious, he enjoys farming and he’s motivated. He tells me he has gained his knowledge from seminars conducted by government workers, by aid organizations and through his group meetings with Juhudi.
Work is not man’s punishment. It is his reward and his strength and his pleasure. –George Sand
Want to loan to hard working farmers like Francis? Click here to go to the Friends of Juhudi team lending page on Kiva.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story.