For three days in February, I visited Kiva borrowers in Nyanza Province near Lake Victoria in the southwest of Kenya. The visits took me to the city of Kisii and the nearby towns of Nyamira and Kenyenya via countless pickup truck, boda-boda, and matatu rides. Although it was invaluable to see a side of Kenya other than my base of Nairobi, the remoteness of the region gave me a new appreciation for the hard work that Kiva partners put in to service our clients.
Nyanza Province is characterized by strikingly green and lush hills that lend themselves well to agriculture. Consequently this is an important region for Kiva field partner, Juhudi Kilimo, whose mission is to transform the lives of rural smallholder farmers through asset-based financing. On this trip, I visited three Kiva borrowers who received loans to finance dairy cows.
Kisii, with a population of 100,000, is the largest city in Kisii County. The city center is bustling with activity much like Nairobi but farms become prevalent as one approaches the outskirts of the city. Salome's Kiva loan allowed the purchase of a dairy cow that helps sustain her extended family of her mother and three children living at home. In addition to caring for her cow, Salome also tends to her banana, tea, kale, and avocado crops.
Nearly one hour from Kisii via a picturesque winding road is Nyamira, a town of 10,000 where the pace of life is noticeably less hectic. Like Salome, Lilian received a Kiva loan to fund a dairy cow for her farm. Sensing an additional business opportunity, Lilian used her dairy income to help fund the purchase of a general goods kiosk on one of the main roads in Nyamira.
Kenyenya is a small town of 2,000 residents in Gucha County. Its slow pace of life and dusty unpaved roads are a ready reminder of the remoteness of this region. Dorica's dairy cow rests near a chicken coop at the entrance of her 1.5 acre farm that grows bananas, avocado, and tea. The dairy income allowed her to obtain a second loan to install a solar panel on the roof of their sitting room. During our visit, her family was very keen to demonstrate their light bulbs that illuminate their house and enables her children to do homework in the evening. In the future, she hopes to obtain an additional loan to purchase a motorbike to take her goods to market.
It's simply inspiring to see how these three women farmers deployed their new assets to improve their lives in different ways. Whether it's providing for family, creating new businesses to sustain economic growth, or improving the education of their children, agricultural loans are clearly making an impact for these three women.
Help contribute to the next great story. Click here to see a list of Juhudi Kilimo's agricultural loans to men and women throughout rural Kenya.