The Kenya Women Finance Trust has launched a livestock loan product, built to reposition rural women into viable businesses and better home lives, which is now overtaking all of its other loan products on the surging interest in commercial agribusiness.
So innovative is the loan product that when KWFT’s Deposit Taking Microfinance (KWFT DTM) arm displayed it during the Nakuru Agricultural Show a few weeks ago, President Mwai Kibaki, who usually spends little time on any stand, spent more than 10 minutes quizzing the staff about its ability to end poverty in rural Kenya.
“We had been warned by the president's handlers that he would only spend at most three minutes in our stand. But when he came, he stayed for more than 10 minutes asking every little detail on how the product works,”said KWFT DTM managing director Mwangi Githaiga.
The product has also enjoyed a rapid uptake by rural women since it was established early this year, due to its creativity in ensuring that women who want to start dairy farming access credit without being exposed to debts they cannot repay.
The women identify the cows they want to acquire. Veterinary doctors and KWFT DTM then assess the animal to ensure it is healthy. Once the animal is cleared on health grounds, it is insured by Jubilee Insurance, after which a microchip is inserted into the cow for tracking. The insurance cover is to ensure the farmer is not saddled with debt in case the animal dies.
KWFT then pays the breeder the price of the cow. “However we ensure the cow is seven months pregnant so that the farmer does not wait for long before they can start repaying their loan. In the case of the animal's death, the insurance company will pay off the debt and the balance of the claim paid to the farmer,” said Githaiga.
To cover all aspects of livestock financing, the microfinance is also financing goat buying, in a system where it links rural women with goat milk processors who buy the milk and pay the women through KWFT.
Dairy goats are not new to Kenya. They were first introduced to Kenya by NGOs. But KWFT is the first organization to provide dairy goats to farmers using a business model.
“We look for people with dairy goats and create a market for them by financing the acquisition by people who want to rear them for milk. This way we create a value chain in the goat milk subsector of livestock,” said Githaiga.
The dairy loan has also equipped most of the borrowers to install biogas digesters, which provide them with cooking gas, thus ending firewood cooking which has been associated with eye problems and a massive degradation of the forests.
Interested women can visit any KWFT branch and open an account to ensure they qualify for the loan.
Written by Bob Koigi for African Laughter