One of the group of visitors from our link diocese, Thika in Kenya, works with a microfinance organisation … this extract is from the website of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF), and concerns a microfinance initiative in Thika town.
70% of Kenyans rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. The typical small farmer is land rich (owning a couple of acres) but cash poor, bringing in under $400 annually. Their primary asset, land, is being underused and cannot support their family. Lacking access to high quality seed and agriculture extension services their farms produce low yields, requires expensive transportation, and fetches poor prices at market. The majority of these farmers are female heads of household with 2+ children. Often, the husband has left for the city to earn more money, and some are faithful to supplement the family income.
Meanwhile, Kenya is a cash society where high school costs $300 per student per year for one high school diploma. Food prices are constantly rising as drought continues in East Africa which is compounded by the weakening global economy. These problems do not account for the high cost of everyday needs such as clothing, shelter, health care, electricity and water.
Thika town has direct access to the large agricultural markets in Nairobi. However, these markets are not accessible for small holder farmers because they cannot provide quantities needed for these markets and the cost of transportation is prohibitive. Farmer groups overcome these obstacles, learn business skills, purchase inputs and finance their crops with economies of scale.
We have seen farmer groups drastically change the lives of farming families: children start attending school because the fees are affordable, medical care is sought early while illnesses are minor, cash reserves support the nutritional needs during drought or famine, and farmers start new side businesses with the methods they have learned. There are broad social, economic and educational opportunities for a community where 150 families have doubled their income strengthening the local economy.
Most importantly we have witnessed farmers speaking diligently to their families, friends and associates about Christ. Expanding our farming and business principles to every area of Kenya is a vehicle to share the Gospel, disciple making tools and biblical business principles. The groups are taught and encouraged to take action based on Scripture using discipleship principles to lead their family members through God’s Word. Working with up to 150 farmers, we expect to impact more than 600 friends and family members with the truth of the Gospel.
For more about the project, see this page.