Thursday, April 1, 2010

Karibu Kiva Yehu Microfinance! Welcome to Kiva Yehu Microfinance!

Please join me in welcoming our newest field partner Yehu Microfinance to the Kiva community!

Yehu is Kiva's first partner based in Mombasa, Kenya. (Mombasa is the second largest notoriously hot and humid city on the Indian Ocean's coast.)

Yehu is a fantastic organization that operates on Grameen Bank's principle and methodology. It aims to improve the lives of rural entrepreneurs by providing much-needed financial services to groups of five members, usually women. Yehu's business loans comprises 70% of Yehu's total loans and savings opportunities. In addition to this typical loan product, Yehu provides business training, micro-insurance and a few specialized loan products, such as poultry loans, goat meat loans and school fee loans, that were developed to meet the particular needs of its clients. The most unique loan product Yehu has developed is a loan to entrepreneurs who are just starting their businesses!

On our second day of training Yehu on Kiva, we had the pleasure to visit a meeting of the Kisauni branch and interview some of the women, who had recently received or were about to receive a loan from Yehu.

As we began explaining Kiva's peer-to-peer online lending model, we could observe the women's lighthearted amusement at our attempts to greet them and introduce ourselves in Swahili turn into suspicion and displeasure. We found that many of the women were intimidated at the idea of the internet. Some were conservative and wanted to ask their husbands for permission before the interview. Others could not imagine that their small and humble businesses were of interest to people from around the world. After demonstrating examples of borrower profiles on Kiva, four of the women warmed up to the idea and laughed their way through the interviews.

One of these women was Betty, a lively and humorous woman "at the prime of her life" (in her own words) with a poultry business. Though she was at first loath to taking us to her business, she felt it was too small for anyone to care about, she eventually invited us to her home where we watched her search for a chicken meeting the weight qualification for sale (it must be over 1.2 kg):

Yehu has already been eagerly received by lenders with all four of their first loans funded within a day of being posted on the Kiva website! They are eager to post more and thrilled to be a part of this supportive community. We hope for your support as we build our partnership and look forward to sharing stories of Yehu borrowers on Kiva!