PBS NewsHour Profiles GBF Portfolio Company Juhudi Kilimo

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Originally published at PBS NewsHour

With mainstream banks and microfinance organizations mainly helping business startups in urban Kenya, a group called Juhudi Kilimo decided to focus on rural small-holder farmers.

By: Larisa Epatko

In the largely agricultural east African country of Kenya, many small-holder farmers need a way to start generating income. An organization called Juhudi Kilimo has stepped in with a new approach to farming as a means to larger business.

About 75 percent of Kenya’s workforce is involved in agriculture, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to 2007 and 2009 estimates from the CIA World Factbook.

Most rural famers in Kenya have about 1 to 2 acres of land, and grow their own food to feed their families and maybe sell a little bit at markets, said Juhudi Kilimo CEO Nat Robinson. But they might not have thought of farming as a business venture and a way of supplying more than just food for their families, Robinson said.

“We like to come in at that stage, when they’ve had a fair amount of farming experience and maybe have had one cow, one local breed, and then we come in and help them get to that next level of being a farmer.”

Working within the community, Juhudi Kilimo, which means “effort” and “agriculture” in Swahili, identifies and trains farmers on what the organization does and on agribusiness and financial practices. Their clients then receive a loan for a pig, a cow, chickens, or other animals, or small farm equipment. They then pay back the loan using the income generated by those assets.

One of Juhudi Kilimo’s success stories is James Mashida, who started with one dairy cow and plans to have 20 cows by 2012.

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