Monday, July 20, 2009

Welcome SMEP and Faulu Kenya to Kiva!

One month ago, the Kenya Agency for Development of Enterprise and Technology (KADET) became the first Kiva partner in Kenya to join in over a year. Rocked by the post-election violence of early 2008, KADET and many other microfinance institutions were severely impacted by clashes that disrupted everyday life for an entire nation. In spite of this, KADET continued to serve clients in 53 branches across a nation the size of Texas ensuring that the rural poor maintained access to financial services.

Kenya's microfinance sector has continued to feel the effects of the post election violence but two stars managing to succeed in spite of external challenges are Faulu Kenya and the Small and Micro Enterprise Program (SMEP). Both organizations bring a unique approach to microfinance and are aggressively growing and innovating to better serve their growing client bases.

Small and Micro Enterprise Programme (SMEP) is a credit-only Microfinance Institution born out of an initiative of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK). SMEP seeks to alleviate poverty by empowering those who are economically marginalized through the provision of both financial and non-financial services. The institution began as a feeding program for the poor in Mathare, a slum near Nairobi, in 1975 but, in 1978, NCCK realized that the poor needed to be self-reliant and economically empowered and the feeding program was transformed in to a microcredit scheme known as Small Scale Business Enterprise (SSBE). Since the beginning of its provision of microfinance services, SMEP has sought to focus on Kenya's deep and rural poor.

SMEP is a leader in agricultural lending, offers products as diverse as solar panel leasing and micro-health insurance, and has recently teamed up with Safaricom’s MPESA to allow easier repayment by clients via mobile phone. The institution is currently working to become a deposit-taking institution in order to offer clients a safe place to put their savings.

Our other new partner, Faulu Kenya, offers savings and credit services to close to 100,000 clients with 25 branches nationwide. Over the years, Faulu has been able to help over 500,000 Kenyans with financial solutions transforming some from poverty into formidable business people. Faulu Kenya is one of the largest microfinance institutions in Kenya and will be using funding from Kiva lenders to ensure further access to financial services.

Please welcome SMEP and Faulu Kenya to Kiva and thank you for supporting entrepreneurs in Kenya and around the world!