The CED program has had a busy long rain season. I mentioned when I first came on how excited I was to be here in such a wonderful season of growth, and I didn’t even understand how true that really was. We’ve launched four new initiatives, have added close to 530 new savers and will hire 10 new staff members in August as we prepare to scale. People are being to understanding the value and importance of savings and working towards taking wise loans.

In March we were working on a few new twists for the CED program. The first was incorporating MPESA, our mobile banking service, better into our program. We offered salary disbursement through MPESA so that staff members coming from quite a distance didn’t have to come in just for their salary. It was a success and next season we will be further evaluating MPESA to see if there are additional services and benefits we can offer the communities here by working with and using MPESA.

We started to invest even more in our staff. We realized that although some of them receive and hear about the financial trainings we are offering the community, that not everyone was receiving the in depth trainings. We want our staff to be an example to the community and be able to speak for the services and trainings from their own personal experiences and successes. We have developed curriculum for a six part series that would delve into when to use savings versus loans, how to determine if a loan is wise and financially advantageous, how to manage a loan once disbursed, etc. We are now on our fifth training and it has truly made a great impact. The staff are now in the process of tracking their expenses and saving up for collateral in order to apply for a loan. We hope to see in the coming months that our staff not only know when to take a loan and how to manage the repayments, but that the money management, saving training, and expense tracking information will help them to better manage the money they already have and use their own resources to make a better future for their families.

The same month we also changed our Jamii Development Fund Loans and started offering product loans. The reasoning behind this was to protect the Nuru farmers. Instead of handing over cash and expecting it to make it to market day, we wanted to provide our farmers with the opportunity to select their own cow and have it purchased for them. This way, it ensures they receive a product that will help their livelihood and has the potential for being an income generating product. The farmers responded with delight the day they received their cows, and thanked our staff for protecting their loan and long term interests. Looking forward, we will be evaluating the product loan service once this season is over and eventually looking to offer more products in demand from our community base.

March was a busy month, we also launched one of our biggest new programs, Msingi wa KAPESA. This program has been a great success thus far. It has changed the influence and reach of the CED program as a whole and better helped us realize our niche. We are here to help the extreme poor and through trainings, show them that they already have the ability to start preparing and achieving a better tomorrow. Two months ago I wrote a little more in depth about this program and its launch, but I’d like to share an overall update on how Msingi wa KAPESA is going and influencing the communities in which we work. We originally launched in three new sub-locations and had tremendous response. We have brought on approximately 530 new savers in these areas alone. The service and savings product is aimed at training on the importance of saving and money management to show farmers that you don’t have to have thousands of shillings left at the end of the month to save. The minimum savings amount is 50 shillings per month, the price of five eggs. However, some of the farmers have been so excited to save and learn about how to prepare for their futures, that Ngochoni sub-location has an average monthly savings of 100 shillings per person. More recently, we worked on offering Msingi wa KAPESA in the sub-locations where we originally started with Nuru. It has been harder to muster excitement about the new opportunity there, but with the help of the Agriculture team, even those areas are starting to grow and participate. Msingi wa KAPESA will now become part of our scalable model officially and hopefully open an accessible door to all farmers into financial training and a start to preparing for their futures. Next season we will be hiring from these areas as we prepare Msingi wa KAPESA to scale.

There has been tremendous and widespread growth in so many other areas of the program and other Nuru teams as well this season. Everything from team building exercises and lessons to leadership training to more efficient receipt writing has kept us busy and helped us progress with the CED model. With so much up and running, I can only wait for next season, when we start reaping the harvest of this long rain growth season!