JUHUDI CHANGES THE FACE OF RURAL AREAS IN KENYA

Mr. Bernard Kivava, CEO, Juhudi Kilimo.
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With a powerful model that focuses on serving rural smallholder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs, lender achieves tremendous growth within a relatively short period of time

Juhudi is a leading microfinance provider for rural smallholder farmers in Kenya. The lender offers a wide range of services spread across 34 branches in 32 rural towns in Kenya. Currently, the lender is managing a portfolio of about Kshs. 2.3 billion. According to the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census results, there are 47.6 million people in Kenya. 75% of these people reside in the rural areas and they depend on farming as their source of income.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy. It represents about 32% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and it is the largest employer in the country. Nevertheless, most rural farmers are not able to access formal financing due to poor infrastructure, poor market access, poor market access, poor climatic conditions, lack of agronomic data, low literacy, lack of collateral or borrowing history and poor or no financial records among other challenges.

It is against this background that Juhudi was established in 2004 as a simple agriculture micro- lending initiative with a focus to serve rural farmers. After five years of market research and product development, in 2009, Juhudi span off from the former K-REP Development Agency, becoming an independent, for profit company with a seed capital of 1 million US Dollars. The impact investors who are shareholders of Juhudi include: Acumen Fund, Soros Economic Development Fund, the Grameen Foundation and Incofincvso.

Impact

According to the chief executive officer Mr. Bernard Kivava, Juhudi delivers innovative, powerful and robust financial solutions to smallholder farmers and micro-entrepreneurs across 34 locations in Kenya. “ Our clients are able to acquire wealth generating assets such as high yield dairy cows, poultry, irrigation equipment and farm machinery that generate income and save on costs,” says Mr. Kivava. The loans offered by Juhudi include: crop farming, animal farming, farm equipment, working capital, clean energy, clean energy, chama and micro housing.

Before the impact investors came on board, Juhudi only had 4,500 customers served by less than fifty members of staff across eight branches. Today, the lender has grown in leaps and bounds and its customer base is more than 45,000. In addition, it has disbursed over Kshs. 11.3 billion. Its current portfolio consists of 67% women and 39% youth. Moreover, its average loan sizes are about Kshs. 37,000. These loans are mainly used to acquire livestock, farm inputs like seeds and fertilizers as well as farming equipment.

Juhudi has embraced mobile technology in its business operations, besides making direct back-end integration with its client relationship and loan management system, enabling it to deliver fast, reliable and transformative financial services to clients. “Technology has made our operations much faster, cost effective, besides delivering exemplary experience to our clients,” says Mr. Kivava.

Juhudi was voted the most preferred microfinance institution supporting agribusiness in Kenya during the 2019 Agribusiness Excellence Awards. “ We thank our clients for enabling us to clinch this prestigious award ,” avers Mr. Kivava adding that the lender will strive to continue innovating new products and services that will enable its clients overcome barriers to financial access that prevent them from actively contributing to the growth of the economy and improving their lives.

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