Visiting Kiva borrowers is always a special part of a Fellow’s experience. Fellows are the lucky ones who actually go out and meet the people that Kiva capital helps. In some cases we even get to meet the borrowers who we’ve lent money to directly – see Luan & Olivia’s terrific blog on True Connectedness!
As we ramp up Kiva Zip and assess our progress, we have had the additional pleasure of meeting the dynamic people and organizations that have been endorsed as trustees. These folks are from diverse backgrounds – community leaders, teachers, business owners and church leaders. They have a vested interest in seeing their communities and constituents succeed and by identifying and endorsing “creditworthy” borrowers from their programs and they are critical to the success and scaleability of Kiva Zip.
Recently Muskan Chopra and Patrick Seeton had the exciting task of meeting three of the more far flung trustees in the Zip program – community leader Rowland Amulyoto, businessman and entrepreneur Haron Wachira and conservation farming advocate Finn Davey and his field officer in Nyahururu, Hussein Wendo.
We met up with Rowland coming back from Jinja after a great weekend of whitewater rafting (and contemplation of the Kiva Zip model as documented in Muskan’s Whitewater blog). Rowland greeted us as we alighted from the bus in the rural Kenyan village of Chavakali, about 1 hour from the Ugandan border. Roland, and his long time friend and advisor Wilson whisked us away to an even more rural village where we were greeted with the traditional Kenyan hospitality… and Tuskers!
Rowland is a well known figure in his village, a true community leader. His interest as a trustee is in seeing the local entrepreneurs thrive without having to move “To Town” (the city of Nairobi). To this end, he has worked with local business owners, imparting his business knowledge, gleaned from his education in India and his years at Village Enterprise Fund and as a marketing director at East African Breweries – he was involved in the hugely successful Guinness advertising campaign featuring Michael Power in the late nineties – Guinness Brings Out the Power in You!
Here’s a clip of one of the original spots!
The borrowers he has endorsed were selected based on stringent criteria, they all live close to the village and he has coached them on business practices, cash flow management and helped them develop their business plans.
Haron Wachira is a business man who operates a number of businesses in the Nairobi area. He has identified his milk distribution business as an ideal candidate for Kiva Zip loans. By providing a small amount of seed capital, endorsed borrowers can set up small market tables called “Ziwa Points” to sell milk and ancillary products in their community.
Connected to a full service dairy value chain operated by Haron’s company, Akili Holdings Ltd, the tables are arranged in groups of ten around the distribution centre or “arena” . For the equivalent of approximately $50 -$100 (USD) Haron is offering young entrepreneurs the opportunity to set up a table and make a substantial profit and achieve a short pay-back time on their initial investment. Haron educates the prospective entrepreneurs about the opportunity at workshops, this one held by a local self-help group.
Kiva Zip will allow these entrepreneurs to borrow their initial capital at zero interest, greatly increasing the profitability in the start up phase of the tables. It works in part because milk is a staple in Kenyan culture and in fact, milky tea is a favourite drink here – We’re told having lots of fresh milk in your tea is a sign of wealth!
Our final trustee trip was out to the rural town of Nyahururu. We arrived to this very cool but beautifully situated town in the Central Highlands of the Rift Valley to meet Hussein Wendo, a field officer for PAFID. From there we headed north to Ol Jabet to the farm of Mama Faith where we were to meet the group of borrowers selected for Kiva Zip by program manager Finn Davey.
The group uses the Kiva Zip loans to uplift their farms by buying farm inputs such as seed, fertilizer and low impact insecticide while implementing the conservation farming techniques taught by PAFID staff.
Here is a video of John, the group leader showing us around his farm:
There is no disputing the efficacy of the techniques – the group tells us that there are many more from the community that have seen the results and would like to sign up for PAFID’s training to uplift their own farms with the help of more Kiva Zip loans.
Patrick Seeton is a Kiva Fellow, working in Kenya this summer with Kiva Zip and field partner SMEP Deposit Taking Microfinance, a microfinance institution based in Nairobi with close to 40 branches throughout Kenya.
Muskan Chopra is a Kiva Fellow, working in Kenya this summer with Kiva Zip and Kiva Partner Faulu Kenya.