Africa drum beats and women dancing to traditional songs welcomed us to Makutano Village. Makutano Village is located on the South-Eastern part of Kenya, 110 kilometers from the capital city Nairobi, in Matuu, at the heart of Machakos County. The African dances were a nice introduction to Matuu after the two-hour drive from Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWMB) Headquarters in Nairobi.
Some women groups were present to engage the KWFT Bank Board and elaborate on the positive impact the institution has had in supporting them out of poverty. Among this group, KWFT Bank is viewed as a partner in enabling vital aspects of daily life: the payment of children’s school fees, reduction of health risks (through the financing of water storage tanks and water purifiers), provider of micro-housing loans and a source of self-employment - just to name a few.
After the interaction with our hosts, we chose to visit one long term client of KWFT Bank, who is popularly known as “Mama Sweetie”. She is a great case study of how microfinance can help raise people from the bottom of a pyramid to the middle class and/or at times the top of the pyramid. Looking back at the last four years, the Bank has utterly changed her life. With the first loan of about USD 100 which she secured through group lending, she started a vegetable-selling kiosk in the village. This has expanded to a whole sale general merchant shop which includes other embedded products such as a petroleum business and KWFT agency banking. The business has been able to grow to this level due to working capital borrowed through KWFT Bank.
Mama Sweetie’s husband realized the opportunities that exist in entrepreneurship. He opted out of employment where he earned roughly USD 500 per month as a book keeper, and established a motor bike transport business with partial funding from KWFT Bank. From owning one bike, he now has 5 and has an average income of USD 1500 per month.
At a personal level, the couple has managed to acquire land and build a permanent house through a micro-housing loan provided by KWFT Bank. An interesting fact though, this is Mama Sweetie’s third house after receiving two house improvement loans.
KWFT Bank is important to larger extended family too as Mama Sweetie’s mother-in-law and sister-in-law have their own houses through the same scheme.
These are just three examples out of over 800,000 KWMB clients. KWFT Bank, Kenya’s leading microfinance bank has expansive network in underserved rural areas. NMI is an investor in KWFT Bank since 2014.