Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Field Partner: Planting trees and helping the poor earn money with KOMAZA

Kiva loves promoting products that support the poor and preserve the planet. A huge part of this goal is preventing deforestation in developing countries. That is why we’re so happy to introduce our newest Field Partner, sustainable tree farming enterprise KOMAZA.

KOMAZA was founded in 2006 to convert drylands into productive family tree farms in Eastern Kenya. The organization equips local farmers with the supplies and training they need to plant fast-growing trees on their unused land. This generates income for their families and creates a sustainable wood supply for local markets.

About 50% of people in Kenya live below the poverty line or are unable to meet their daily nutrition requirements. One of the reasons for this high poverty rate is population growth -- over the last 30 years the population of the country has almost tripled, putting more pressure on the country’s resources.

Most of the poor living in rural areas include farmers, farm laborers and unskilled or semi-skilled workers and households headed by women. They cannot grow enough food to survive and choose to supplement their incomes by cutting down indigenous trees to sell as charcoal.

Desperate farmers are cutting down trees to bring money home.

How does KOMAZA help the poor?

KOMAZA in Swahili means “encourage growth, promote development.” This organization starts by improving the skills of local farmers by training them in creating and maintaining small tree farms. After the harvest, the organization transforms farmers’ trees into a variety of products like firewood, sawn lumber, floorboards and more. This allows them to sell the wood to a wide range of customers.

Shena Mumba is 81 years old and is a KOMAZA farmer. He lives on a large compound with 12 of his 17 children. He became a KOMAZA farmer in 2008, when he planted half an acre of eucalyptus trees that grew fast. Shena's family is enthusiastic about KOMAZA and has planted five sustainable tree farms that grow back after harvest. They plan to spend money earned from the sale of the trees on his children's school fees.

Today, KOMAZA has created over 130 jobs in rural areas, planted more than 660,000 trees and impacted the lives of about 2,860 farmers in Kenya. The organization is prepared to plant tree farms for an additional 5,000 farmers this coming planting season.

Where does Kiva come in?

Since KOMAZA does not require any money from farmers before their first successful harvest (usually after the 6th year of a 10-year loan), KOMAZA must secure upfront funding to finance tree farms. Kiva is more than happy to help the organization expand its impact, support reforestation and help even more families generate more income.

If you are interested in preserving the environment through preventing deforestation and helping poor families escape the cycle of poverty, this partner is the right choice for you!

SUPPORT KOMAZA BORROWER TODAY! We’re sorry if they’re all funded, but please check back soon for more!

Have questions about KOMAZA? About Kiva’s work in Kenya? Email us at

Images courtesy of KOMAZA.