A Pioneering Effort Continues to Bear Fruit


Esther Chamanga, a mother of two, lives in a rural village near Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city. She supports her family by selling charcoal, firewood and vegetables at the local market, but never had enough money to take care of all of her children’s needs. In late 2011, she turned to Yehu Microfinance Ltd., a microfinance institution (MFI) that serves rural communities in Kenya’s coastal region. Esther used her first loan of 10,000 Kenyan shillings (about $120) to increase her inventory so she would have more to sell at the market from day to day. Since then, her daily business has increased from 700 to 1,000 shillings.

With the additional income, Esther paid for her children’s school fees, and bought their school uniforms and furniture for their home. She repaid off her first loan in 12 months, and has already taken out a second loan.

Clients like Esther often don’t get the financing and other resources they need, because they live in smaller, more rural communities that are not served by larger MFIs and social enterprises. That’s why, with donor support, Grameen Foundation created the Pioneer Fund two years ago –  to address the funding gap between more mature institutions (which typically receive the bulk of available financing) and younger, promising organizations like Yehu Microfinance.

We placed our first Pioneer Fund investment with Yehu in 2009, and now work with 12 organizations that offer microloans and innovative income-generating opportunities to the poor. To all of the donors who helped make this vital work possible, we say thank you.

With your support, we can give Esther and others the support they need to successfully expand their businesses, improve their families’ lives and transform their communities.