Clean energy is a huge need for rural farmers in Kenya. Only 23% of Kenyans are connected to the grid, leaving the majority of the country without access to electricity. And when 85% of the population lives in rural areas, creating that access is not an easy task.
Kiva’s partner, Juhudi Kilimo is well known in Kenya for providing agricultural loans to lift rural farmers out of poverty, (such as loans to purchase dairy cows, chickens, and farming tools). Although that is still at the core of what they do, they are now offering clean energy loans to farmers.With these loans, farmers gain access to solar lights, solar home systems and clean burning stoves which help them save money and their health.
During my time here, I visited a few Kiva borrowers who used a clean energy loan to better the health of their family and the environment. One of them is Josephine. She lives in a very rural, but extremely beautiful, village in the North Rift Valley of Kenya. Getting to her house took us 6 hours from the main town and involved winding through mountain roads that were washed out from the recent rain. But once we arrived, it was something out of a fairytale; lush land and fresh water flowing from a nearby river created all of the right conditions for a sustainable farm.
Josephine used those resources and her first Kiva loan to start a potato farm, which is now thriving. However, getting reliable energy out in the mountains is next to impossible. So Josephine had to rely on kerosene lamps for energy, despite the fact that they are known to produce toxic fumes that cause respiratory diseases.
But with her clean energy loan, Josephine purchased a solar light for her home. Now, the air in her house is cleaner and she does not have to spend her limited income on kerosene. What’s even better is that her family spends more time together in the evening and her daughter can finish her studies at night. In the kitchen, Josephine still uses a traditional wood burning stove, which fills the kitchen with smoke. But she plans to upgrade her stove to a clean burning stove very soon.
If you’d like to contribute to a borrower seeking a clean energy loan or an agricultural loan, click here!