It’s a Whole New World…

So imagine your first week as a Kiva Fellow placed at a microfinance institution in Nairobi, Kenya.  Think about what the place may look like, how the people will greet you, and the overall atmosphere of the office.  Now scrap all that, because my first few days at Juhudi Kilimo have been so far above and beyond anything I could have imagined.

Cows everywhere...

The real inspiration for this blog is my new co-worker Steve, the office DJ at Juhudi Kilimo who plays music all day to keep everyone relaxed and at ease.  Now I was expecting some local artists and maybe some popular American Top 40 type songs that are played all over Kenya, but no, that would be too normal.  Instead, Steve has serenaded us with a Disney classic, “It’s a Whole New World,” REPEATEDLY, during the past few days.

Now I’m sure people here with kids have seen Aladdin, and for those of you in your 20s and 30s, please don’t pretend you don’t know the words.

A whole new world,
A hundred thousand things to see
I can’t go back to where I used to be

A whole new world,
With new horizons to pursue
No one to tell us no,
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming

A whole new world,
That’s where we’ll be
A thrilling chase
A wondrous place
For you and me

Juhudi Kilimo staff at main office.

So Juhudi Kilimo is a very small and young organization, with fewer than 40 staff members spread across the country.  They have very good leadership and plans in place to scale their operations to reach thousands more individuals in Kenya.  The staff is young, hard working, and from what I can tell so far are very dedicated to this organization.  Most of them have strong financial backgrounds and have many of the tools necessary to succeed in microfinance.

Like my new friend Steve sings along every day…”It’s a whole new world”…and I have all the confidence in the world that Juhudi Kilimo will succeed with their work and through their partnership with Kiva.  This organization is still in its infancy, working hard to spread microloans to rural areas around Kenya, and I am just lucky to be here to watch them grow.  There’s a new horizon here to pursue, and if Juhudi Kilimo and other microfinance organizations help in alleviating poverty, it truly can be a whole new world.

Kevin Chaissan is a member of the 10th class of Kiva Fellows, stationed in Nairobi, Kenya.  He is working at Juhudi Kilimo, seeking to move the new Field Partner from Pilot to Active stage in order to increase their funding on Kiva and maximize their impact on poor, rural farmers across Kenya looking to gain access to capital.

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