Seventeen young, scared faces sit around the board room for the full-day training of new marketers. I had been present the day that this new crop of SMEP employees was being interviewed. They had assembled en masse at our head office; many of them looking like the suit they were wearing had been hastily purchased at one of the local secondhand markets in anticipation of their first job interview. In fact, they were what I refer to as “babies” the young-ish, newly graduated staffers whose faces more often look up at me when I am conducting trainings at the SMEP branch offices all over...Continue Reading >>
Stories from Kenya
This is a blog that I’ve written in a hurry so as not to let the words swirling in my head escape my fingers on the page. In my tenure at SMEP, I’ve never attended the weekly devotional, held every Monday morning from 8-10 in the morning. I always thought of myself as a secularist, and I assumed that attending would make me uncomfortable – after all, I come from a place where there is separation of church and everything. I’ve grown up in the deeply religious “bible belt” of the Southern United States, and I just assumed that at SMEP, the devotional...Continue Reading >>
Juhudi Kilimo CFO: Kevin, when you’re out in Litein, make sure you ear-tag at least one cow for our Micro Insurance program.
Me: Ummm yea, I may pass on that one, but I’ll think about it.
Microfinance… To most people this word is synonymous with providing small loans to very low-income entrepreneurs. But microfinance is so much more than that. It involves...Continue Reading >>
Could you imagine having to do all your communication in writing, on actual paper? Or writing a check for every transaction or purchase that you made? Frankly, I don’t even remember how to write a check!
Everyday in Kenya, paper loan...Continue Reading >>
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.Continue Reading >>
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.
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...Continue Reading >>
by Avani Parekh-Bhatt, Kiva Fellow at SMEP in Nairobi, Kenya.
Jambo! I’d like to introduce myself, My name is Avani Parekh-Bhatt, I’m a 9th class Kiva Fellow and the last of my class to get to the field in Kenya. I hail from Durham, North Carolina. I believe in the power of human relationships, and grassroots led development, and I want to see the real nuts and bolts of...Continue Reading >>
By Hanna Azemati, KF9 Kenya
Our first Swahili class in the early morning tranquility of the still shuttered Prestige Plaza cafeteria in Kilimani was interjected with a myriad of embarrassing anecdotes of faux pas called forth by each new lesson that Lucy taught us. As Anne, Rachel and I, the three Nairobi Kiva Fellows, can attest, it behooves anyone new to Kenya to learn Swahili as promptly as possible and not because Kenyans don’t speak English. In fact, most Kenyans speak both official languages, English and Swahili, in addition to one of the sixty regional Bantu, Nilotic...Continue Reading >>
Jua Kali translates as under the hot sun in Kiswahili but in Kenya it’s a term meant to describe businesses in the “informal sector.” Jua Kali businesses have slightly less infrastructure than your typical lemonade stand. Often times they are just a blanket or some plastic sheeting on the ground, secured with rocks and displaying some limited inventory. The business location is the side of the road or a front stoop (though it still requires a permit).
Sicily has had a used clothing store for the...Continue Reading >>
By Anne Hector, KF9, Kenya
At two months into my Kiva fellowship (and woefully late on my blogs…), I have now interviewed more than 50 micro-borrowers. The individuals I have met are always moving and impressive, but Jeska Silivano Mlanya truly stands out for her strength, warmth, and resourcefulness. Just take a moment and look at that face…!
When I visited the SMEP Mombasa branch to train and went out to the field with Beatrice Mbwika, she said, “I have the perfect client for you to meet. This is my favorite borrower. “...Continue Reading >>