Ester Maruba, Kenya
In rural Kenya, clients of Juhudi Kilimo (a microfinance organization that focuses on farmers) support each other both financially and emotionally. With guidance from a Juhudi Kilimo loan officer, farmers form groups to receive loans, manage repayments, share business ideas and challenges, and get technical training and product demonstrations. Once business is over, they share tea and bread before heading back to work. If one farmer is trying something new, he or she can definitely expect visitors from the group before the next meeting.
Ester Maruba and her husband, Geoffrey, are farmers in Murang’a, in central Kenya, where Ester is a member of a cooperative group called Busara, a Swahili word meaning “integrity.” Formed almost four years ago with more than 20 members, nearly all of the founding members remain today and meet monthly at a member’s homestead. Integrity drives the group, making it a cohesive unit.
Like most of the others in her group, Ester is on her second loan. With her first loan of 50,000 shillings (about $590), she and her husband bought a high-yield dairy cow that produces more than 20 liters (about 5 gallons) of milk per day, 13 liters more than their other cows. They also bought a bio-gas plant with a second loan of 100,000 shillings (about $1,180). Using manure from their dairy cows, the plant will eventually produce enough energy to power their home. Noting that he and Ester would not have been able to find better loan terms elsewhere, Geoffrey says they are very grateful for the opportunity to get a loan through the local microfinance institution.