Daily Video

June 8, 2010

Kenyan Slum-Dwellers Find New Hope With Microfinancing

On the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, millions of people live in tightly packed, unsanitary slums with little hope of finding better and safer housing. But, some new microfinancing programs are changing that by allowing former slum residents to move into new homes and pay them off a little at a time over many years.

Jane Ngoiri’s family has been living in the Nairobi slums for three generations, but she’s been able to break that cycle by starting a sewing business and using her small but steady income to purchase a home over time. Her new house is small but clean, with a garden, running water and freshly painted walls. She pays the same amount per month for the home’s mortgage as she did to rent her former shack in the slums.

Ngoiri’s home was built by an organization called Jamii Bora, which uses members of the community to build ecologically friendly homes that are purchased by people who have small sources of income and can eventually pay off the mortgage. Jamii Bora, in turn, received a loan from the U.S-based Acumen Fund, which invests private money from donors in entrepreneurial projects to help the poor. Last year, Jamii Bora was able to pay back all the money it borrowed from the Acumen Fund.

Quotes

“It’s very difficult to get any access to bank credit, as Jane, for instance, HIV-positive, ex-prostitute who does informal tailoring and lives in Mathare with no legal address, not exactly your perfect candidate for a bank.” – Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO, Acumen Fund

“Jamii Bora now has people with seven, eight years of credit experience who are repaying on a regular basis, who buy — using incrementally larger loans, have increased their businesses to the point where they are making four or five or six dollars a day, and where they can afford to buy a house, if you can structure the mortgage for a long enough time so that the monthly payments are equal to or less than the monthly payments that people were making in the slums.” – Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO, Acumen Fund

Warm Up Questions

1. What is a mortgage?

2. Where is Kenya?

3. What are slums? Would you want to live in one? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions

1. What did you learn about microfinancing from the video? What is microfinancing?

2. Do you know someone who has a mortgage? Where do people get mortgages from in the U.S.? Why might it be hard for people in Kenya to get mortgages this way?

3. Jane Ngoiri said her oldest daughter is now in high school and hopes to become a surgeon. How do you think the family’s better housing situation will help her achieve her goal? How does having safe, clean housing affect other aspects of peoples’ lives?

4. Draw a diagram that shows where the funding for Jane Ngoiri’s house comes from. What groups are involved? How does the money that was lent get paid back to each group?

Additional Resources

Video Transcript

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