In development work, this conversation is called a participatory rural appraisal and allows us and community members to come to joint understanding of priorities, problems, potential, and challenges.
This time of appraisal allowed the community to identify the root problem for most community challenges. Indeed, a baseline economic survey conducted by the Anglican Development Services in 2013 showed that more than 80% of households in Ng’enda survived on less than $100 USD per month. Addressing poverty was the priority.
Through this time of appraisal, the community identified resources that could be used to address this priority. Not only does Ng’enda have arable land, but the urban centers of Nairobi, Thika, Ruiru, and Gutunda lie within fifty kilometers, allowing for access to both agricultural products and markets. We agreed with the community that agri-business held the greatest potential to alleviate the poverty they had committed to address.
Of course, the potential of agri-business in Ng’enda was not without challenges. Although there are many commercial banks near the community, they found most community members too much of a financial risk. Without access to loans, community members would never be able to properly invest in their farms or in achieving access to markets. The community realized the only way forward was to mobilize their own resources to finance their agricultural-based enterprises.
So, in 2014, the community of Ng’enda organized into small saving groups of at least 15 members. These village savings and loan associations were then further combined into one large community savings and loans group, the Njagu Community Bank, managed by 9 community members of integrity identified by the community itself. When Njagu Community Bank started, it had 16 members with a combined savings of $250 USD.
Today, the bank comprises 30 village savings and loan associations representing over 400 community members with a combined savings of $120,000 USD and has even opened a front office with one employee. To date, bank members have enjoyed over $200,000 in loans over the last four years, allowing for investment in farming and other enterprises, like motorcycle transport. Farmers are thriving and seven young men have bought motorbikes with support from the community bank, to enable them to transport agricultural products from interior farms to satellite trading centers and big cities.
As agriculture has begun to grow in Ng’enda, the Anglican Development Services has supported the community in establishing a coordinated marketing entity, Mwihoko Community Based Organization, that allows the farmers of Ng’enda to engage markets in a more organized and sustainable way. Mwihoko CBO has since partnered with a social enterprise that seeks horticultural markets and provides transport to the farmers for a small fee. In the last two years, the local farmers have managed to market approximately 300 tons of horticultural products, a serious challenge to the poverty that has held this community for so long.
What is happening in Ng’enda is remarkable and I attribute it to the hard work, unity, ownership, creativity, and leadership of this community as well as the facilitation of our partner, Anglican Development Services. I look forward to seeing how Ng’enda will grow and what challenges they will take on next!
- comfort and peace for our staff and partner who lost relatives at the end of 2018
- health and strength to continue our work
- that an upcoming half-year review and program meeting will generate energy and strengthen vision for transformative action in communities
- we are thankful for a beautiful time of rest and thanksgiving
- praise God for the safety of our staff through much traveling
- we are grateful for the Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference that has given of their time and been keen to support the work of World Renew in Kenya