Hezron Murinde is a happy man. After 20 years of subsistence farming in a hilly region of Kenya’s Central Province, he’s earning a profit. It started with a chaff cutter. A chaff cutter is a big, cranky device that chops feed into small enough pieces for livestock to eat (and livestock eat a lot). The chaff cutter led to the cow. Not just any cow, but a high-yield dairy cow that produces enough milk to out-gross all the maize and beans Hezron grows across acres of land.

Hezron and his watermelon-eating cow

In return for two loans, Ksh. 35,000 for the chaff cutter and 40,000 for the cow, Hezron’s now earning about $10 a day (compared to $4 a day typical of most Kenyan farmers) and smiling about sending all of his children through secondary school and maybe now the eldest to university.

The source of Hezron’s smiling is Juhudi Kilimo, Kiva’s newest field partner in Kenya. Juhudi is a for-profit social enterprise based in Nairobi with seven branches in rural communities across Kenya. They work with poor smallholder farmers to directly finance dairy cows and goats, chickens, and agricultural equipment that are specifically chosen to create immediate cash flow.

Hezron demonstrating his chaff cutter

Farming is a huge part of the Kenyan economy, with 75% of the workforce in agriculture and related activities. It’s mostly small producers who usually cultivate no more than about five acres and with limited technology. But helping these farmers can be very risky: livestock get sick, rain doesn’t come, prices fluctuate. So Juhudi adds a lot to make sure their loans are successful.

Hezron and his family

Dairy cows financed through Juhudi are insured to protect farmers from the impact of disease and other problems. Because the high-yield breeds are new to many small-scale farmers, Juhudi provides training and ongoing advice on how to care for for them and produce the most amount of milk. Juhudi also offers medical aid to its clients and their families and life insurance. And in case of default, rather than the client and Juhudi both suffering losses, Juhudi reclaims and resells the dairy cow, or other asset, and the client’s loan is settled.

Loan officer John Muigai interviewing a farmer for Kiva

Hezron was the first Juhudi client I met and after he demonstrated his chaff cutter and showed us around the farm, he served us all up some incredibly sweet Kenyan watermelon, a new crop he was trying. The rains had come after a harsh drought, so we were surrounded by lush green farmland. We headed out in the Juhudi truck to interview one heartened client after another. Then a different farmer suddenly and generously gave me a live chicken I couldn’t refuse.

Sarah

Hezron’s cow was financed before Juhudi became a Kiva field partner, but take a look at Juhudi Kilimo loans that have been posted on Kiva since.

Rachel Brooks is a Kiva Fellow in Nairobi at Juhudi Kilimo, and was previously at Faulu Kenya. Join her on the Friends of Juhudi Kilimo Lending Team.

in Nairobi, Kenya

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