Providing a path out of poverty in Kenya
Ingrid Munro is a Swedish national who worked for eight years for the Swedish government in the Bureau of Housing Research. Following this, she began her career as an advocate for the poor in Kenya, pressing for their right to housing as a staff member of Habitat and the head of African Housing Fund, an advocacy group for the homeless.
Jamii Bora founder, Ingid Munro in Nairobi, Kenya
Photo by Nicholas Kristof
Upon her retirement in 1999, Ingrid Munro founded the antipoverty organization Jamii Bora along with 50 impoverished women, loaning each woman twice as much as she agreed to save. It has since grown to become the fastest-growing microfinance institution in Kenya in reaching the poorest.
“Jamii Bora is not a normal organization, in the sense that we are more like a movement, it’s the people’s own organization: they own it, they run it, they guide it, and they are proud of it,” Munro says.
As a leader and advocate of microfinance in one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in Africa, Ingrid has so far provided a way out of poverty for nearly 250,000 people.
Munro says she came to know the women who eventually became involved in Jamii Bora after she and her husband, a Canadian, adopted a boy in 1988 who had lived on the street. The couple later adopted his two brothers.
Read Nicholas Kristof's New York Times column about Ingrid.