WMI's Kenya Loan Program Operations
"Sometimes they call us women the same word that they use for donkey. We are seen as work animals. A woman's life can be so miserable. You are expected only to have children and keep the animals. Your husband hardly allows you to leave the compound. You know life to only be hard work and no reward. I saw my mother live like a slave and my older sisters and I knew I would never allow myself to be put in that position." read more
WMI started loan hubs in Kenya in 2011 to combat the extreme poverty and discrimination experienced by rural women in the western and central regions of the country. Partnering with local community based organizations (CBOs) that operate the loan program on a day-to-day basis, WMI borrowers have experienced significant improvements in their household living standards and their personal/business skills.
WMI Impact in Kenya
Through WMI loans and business training, rural women have increased the productivity of their businesses and improved their standard of living as well.
Before entering the loan program:
After 6 months in the loan program:
WMI Kenya Factbook 2013
This dramatic improvement in income leads to more meals, more mosquito nets, more shoes and uniforms for children, and overall healthier families for the borrowers. Review the 2013 Kenya Factbook for a comprehensive look at loan program impact.
Meet the Kenya Loan Program Administrators
Each WMI loan hub is headed by a local woman administrator who coordinates loan program operations. These women are charismatic village leaders who command respect in the community. Pamela Naitetoi Kilua is 31 years old...read more
WMI Prototype Water Project
Many women in rural Kenya do not have access to water in their homes. To address this problem WMI has launched an innovative home water tank project. The purpose of the water tank program is make separate loans available to women in the Wendo managed WMI Loan Program in Central Kenya. The first loan enables the women to construct water tanks on concrete pads. The second loan allows them to install pipes to bring water directly to their homes from the local water station. Women access the water project loans in the same support groups they are members of for their WMI business loans.
Clean water is severely lacking in the rural villages on Central Kenya. The water project is responding to the desperate need in a way that is sustainable. As loans are repaid the funds will be recycled to new borrowers. The ability to have clean water in the home will drastically increase the living standards for these women and their families. From bathing, to cooking, to consumption, this program will greatly improve their lives.
Elissa Eva, a member of WMI's advisory board, raises the funds for the water project and provides extensive field support for the Central Kenya loan hubs.
Ntumburi and Ngarendare are villages located in Meru County and Laikipia County respectively, where WMI operates loan hubs. Both are extremely rural and impoverished regions. Poverty in this area stems from the combination of a lack of sufficient water and an increasingly dry climate. This makes farming difficult and greatly affects the health of villagers. Along with malnourishment, diseases such as malaria, typhoid, and HIV/AIDS are common. Additionally, much of the economy is based on agriculture, livestock, and trade. Tourism is also a major component of the economy due to its close proximity to Mt. Kenya.
Many of the people in this Central area are Maasai, a semi-nomadic ethnic group, whose customs and beliefs date back hundreds of years. Their social structure is traditionally patriarchal, with men making the major decisions. Their lifestyle revolves around their cattle, which is a source of wealth and food. Men are born to be warriors and women take on most of the household responsibilities. They feed and raise the cattle, raise the children, and take care of the daily household chores. With the WMI loan program we see these roles changing gradually. Women are becoming more independent and husbands are assisting their wives with their businesses as well as with household chores.
Shikokho and Keveye are the WMI loan hub village locations in the Western Province of Kenya. Situated near Lake Victoria, the climate is very tropical, with lush forestry and rolling hills. Agriculture drives the economy, along with trade and livestock. Tourism is also popular with local companies offering safaris and other expeditions. Poverty and literacy are major local issues: the majority of people live on less than $5 a day and more than half of the people in this region are illiterate. Malaria is prevalent, especially due to the tropical climate, and HIV/AIDS is a major problem as well. Most of the people are Bantu speaking, sharing languages with Eastern Uganda. Women are critical to the well-being of the communities: their responsibilities include not only taking care of the children, but providing for the family as well. WMI partners with Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland to provide resources and back up support on the ground to the Western Kenya loan hubs.