Mama Shabaan


In many African communities, clean water is a scarce and valuable resource. On the southern coast of Kenya, villagers in the small, rural community of Mwambalazi rely on water collected from wells or murky ponds for all of their household needs.

For Mama Shabaan, the muddy well a few feet from her farm provided an unexpected boost. Mama made a scant living growing tomatoes on two acres of land and selling them in the local market. She relied on the often-erratic rainfall, rather than the well, to water her plants until she became a client of local microfinance institution Yehu Microfinance Ltd.

A Yehu loan officer pointed out the benefits of irrigation to her during a visit about a loan appraisal. Mama applied for a loan to buy a water pump so she could have a more reliable source of water to irrigate her crops. The loan was quickly approved and she started using a manual water pump to water her crops each day.

The results of this change were tremendous: Five weeks later, she had doubled her yield, which now includes kale, spinach and onions. Her income also increased by more than 400 percent, from about $22 to $122 per week. Equally important, she can now plant and sell her vegetables year-round, regardless of the weather.

Mama’s success is one example of Yehu Microfinance’s efforts to introduce its clients to simple technology that can increase their income. Mama was able to repay her $90 loan within a month. Today, she also sells water to villagers who don’t have access to a pond and rents the pump to her neighbors so that they can irrigate their crops also.

Grameen Foundation’s Pioneer Fund was created to support organizations like Yehu Microfinance that are working in hard-to-reach areas or with underserved clients. Yehu received our very first loan from the fund in 2009 and has received about $500,000 in direct financing between 2010 and 2012.