Going the distance to serve smallholder farmers

Wealth creation officers in Kenya use technology to connect Joyce Wambui Mwangi and other poor farmers with loans and support. (Photo: Grameen Foundation/Riccardo Gangale)

Speeding along a rough and bumpy road on the back of a boda boda, or motorbike, Sylvester Musyoka is grateful that he is visiting his client during the dry season. When the roads are flooded and muddy, it makes reaching the farmers even more difficult. 

Sylvester is a wealth creation officer with Musoni Kenya, a digitally operated microfinance institution. Working with Grameen Foundation, Musoni developed the Kilimo Booster loan specifically for smallholder farmers, most of whom have never qualified for a typical farm loan.  With access to finance, farmers can finally invest in long-lasting farm improvements.

Joyce Wambui Mwangi is one such farmer. The mother of four grows crops and rears chickens, goats and one precious cow to support her family. She left school after grade four, and is determined to ensure her children have a different future. A Kilimo Booster loan made a big difference not only to her farm operations, but to her life as well.

Before, she lacked the capital to invest in veterinary care or better crop seeds to increase her income and provide more food for her family.  “When I got a loan, I bought the cow multivitamins, high quality feeds, vaccines, and drugs. It changed the way I take care of the cow,” she said. 

“Before I would not even earn Kes 1,000 (US $9.72) a month from the sale of milk since I would just get one liter on average every day. Now I get around 10 litres on average a day and earn Kes 7,200 (US $70) on average a month," she explained. With the money, Joyce is also able to pay her children's school fees on time.

Stories like Joyce’s are what inspires Musoni wealth creation officers to reach as many farmers as possible. Although Sylvester’s trips to meet clients are long and difficult, he is motivated by their success. 

“I am so happy when a farmer comes back to me to say thank you for the loan we advanced… To see a farmer who has advanced from one dairy cow to two or three cows is extremely gratifying.”  

Musoni trains its wealth creation officers to educate their clients in financial management and good farming practices. The training pays off. 

“As a wealth creation officer, my farmers trust me and the information I provide,” he says. “For instance, before I did not know much about vaccines, but now I have a schedule and when a farmer tells me his animals are sickly, I can give them that schedule to follow,” he reports. 

“Such farmers become our ambassadors and as they become better farmers, our business also grows.”