AMFI-K COMMISSIONS THE SECOND COHORT OF THE WATER CREDIT ADOPTION PROGRAMME

From left: Caroline Karanja, CEO, AMFI-K, Mwatata Juma, Chairman, Hazina Dev. Trust, Zayyad Said, CEO, Hazina Dev. Trust, Mwatela Kamanza, Head of Business Dev., Hazina Dev. Trust and Mary Ngunjiri, Senior Programme Manager, Water.org during the sustainable water and sanitation conference held recently in Nairobi.
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Umbrella body of microfinance institutions in Kenya partners with Water.org to roll out a programme for developing and scaling up water supply and sanitation products among its members

By George Gichuki

The Association of Microfinance Institutions in Kenya (AMFI-K) in partnership with Water.org successfully organized a conference on sustainable water and sanitation last week.  The meeting was attended by microfinance banks and institutions as well as key stakeholder groups in the water and sanitation sectors.  Most importantly, it acted as a forum for the microfinance banks and institutions which participated in the first cohort of the Water Credit Adoption (WCAD) programme to share their experiences.  By the same token, the second cohort of the programme was commissioned.

 In his keynote speech, Mr. James Mugambi, Chairman, AMFI-K, emphasized on the importance of water and sanitation in our day to day life.  “Without access to safe drinking water and sanitation, we cannot ensure health, food security, dignity and equality for all, nor can we protect our fragile ecosystems,” he said. Additionally, he lauded players in the microfinance sector for being faithful to their mission:  serving the community at the bottom of the pyramid with products and services that meet their day to day needs.

Mr. James Mugambi (second right), Chairman, AMFI-K with other participants during the sustainable water and sanitation conference.

Partnership

WCAD was launched in 2019 as a partnership between AMFI-K and Water.org.  According to Caroline Karanja, the Chief Executive Officer of AMFI-K, the objective of this programme is to build the capacity of microfinance banks and institutions ( who are AMFI-K members) to develop and scale up  water supply and sanitation products. Before its launch, AMFI-K commissioned a research with a view of gathering information to inform, design and develop strategy for water and sanitation products in Kenya. “The information gathered covered water supply and sanitation (WSS) and financial environments, client socio-economic status and local demands,” said Caroline. Water.org provided budgetary support towards the programme. The target for the financial institutions was to disburse 11,372 loans that would reach a minimum of 56,860 beneficiaries.

Impact

The roll out of the first cohort in 2020/2021 was during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya.  It was a very challenging period.   Businesses across board were disrupted heavily by the guidelines and protocols that were outlined by the government and the World Health Organization (WHO) in order tocurb the spread of the deadly pandemic. The microfinance sector was not an exception.  Nevertheless, the resilient nature of its players enabled them to weather the storm that the pandemic posed. “We were able to implement the programme though at a limited scale,” Caroline observed. Out of the twelve financialinstitutions in the first cohort, only one deferred.  These institutions extended 4,797 water credit loans to 23,985 beneficiaries, hence achieving their target by 87%.

“The performance of this programme and feedback from thefinancial institutions indicate that there is a high demand for water supply and sanitation products in Kenya,” said Caroline.  One of the major lessons learnt so far as this programme enters its second phase is the need for microfinance institutions to engage more in   marketing campaigns in order to bring on board more customers and expand outreach.

Sustainability

Delivering her speech, Mary Ngunjiri, the senior programme manager of Water.org in Kenya noted that the repayment rate of the water and sanitation loan products extended by the financial institutions in the first cohort  to their customers was recorded at 99%.  Additionally, the average loan size was Kshs. 45, 000. “This superb performance is an indication that these products are not risky and their potential for growth is high,” said Mary. One of the goals of this programme is that upon its conclusion, microfinance banks and   institutions   will be able to offer   water and sanitation products sustainability.

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