Kenya-based firm to provide 100,000 small farmers with micro-loans
New York/Nairobi—Juhudi Kilimo, a Kenya-based investment firm, announced today that it will provide some 100,000 smallholder rural farmers in Kenya—more than half of them women—with access to micro-loans and basic financial training by 2016 as part of the firm’s commitment to the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative that encourages companies to fight poverty while boosting business opportunities in developing countries.
Juhudi Kilimo—which means “effort” and “agriculture” in Swahili—operates in rural areas where farmers typically don’t have access to bank loans. The firm provides Kenyan farmer groups a two-month workshop on agribusiness and financial practices before offering the opportunity to apply for a loan. Farmers can then use the credit to purchase assets such as dairy cows, seeds, farming equipment or irrigation systems that will help generate income, boosting livelihoods and eventually enabling them to pay back loans at below market rates.
“Access to financial services enables rural smallholder farmers to take the leap from subsistence farming to market-based farming, thereby increasing their productivity and income for the long term,” said Amanda Gardiner, Acting Programme Manager for the BCtA. “Juhudi Kilimo is providing farmers with tools to escape the cycle of poverty and earn a sustainable livelihood through its innovative approach to investing.”
According to the 2009 FinAccess National Survey, approximately 75 percent of the Kenyan workforce is involved in agriculture or agriculture-related activities. Many of these farmers lack basic agricultural training, equipment, and market connections they need in order to grow their business.
Since launching the pilot phase from April 2009 through August 2011, Juhudi Kilimo had provided asset financing to over 7,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, half of them women. The average repayment rate for these loans is 96 percent—a significant indicator of a lack of over-indebtedness.
Providing women farmers with access to finance is a priority for Juhudi Kilimo. Since few women own property they can use as collateral for loans, Kenya female farmers’ access to finance is more limited than men’s, according to a World Bank-sponsored study. Juhudi Kilimo is trying to help empower women by targeting at least 50 percent of loan funding towards female farmers.
“For men and women working in subsistence agriculture, it can be difficult to access credit to purchase farm equipment or farm animals. We seek to bridge that gap through our commitment to provide 100,000 rural smallholder farmers with the opportunity to build their businesses,” said Nat Robinson, CEO of Juhudi Kilimo. “After receiving a loan from Juhudi Kilimo, farmers currently earning US$2 per day or less are expected to double their income. Through membership to the Business Call to Action, we hope to highlight how businesses such as ours can help transform farmers into thriving rural entrepreneurs.”