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Banking on Change: From struggling farm to profitable business

Irene Magana lives in a poor, remote community in the Kisumu West District of Kenya, running a small farm with her husband.

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If I didn't get money from the VSLA, I would not be able to maintain the health and milk production of my goats. Now I am able to sustain my customers' demand for milk, even through the dry periods.
Irene Magana

Irene Magana lives in a poor, remote community in the Kisumu West District of Kenya, running a small farm with her husband.

The couple had long struggled to feed and care for their animals during the dry season on a meagre income.

They did not know how to sustain their earnings during difficult periods of the year, and often had to choose between funding the farm and sending their children to school.

Determined to change her family’s situation, Irene joined a local Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) organised by Banking on Change in September last year.

Is a three-year, £10m financial inclusion partnership, led by Barclays and charities CARE International and Plan UK. The programme aims to reach 400,000 people across 11 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, providing them with access to basic financial services.

Backed by the partnership, Irene and fellow members of her local VSLA pool their savings and borrow small loans at a reasonable rate of interest agreed among themselves.

Irene, along with 26,000 people benefiting from Banking on Change in Kenya, has received training in money management and has been given the opportunity to develop her entrepreneurial acumen.

Creating a sustainable business

Thanks to her new skills and access to loans and savings from the VSLA, Irene has been able to develop the family farm into a sustainable business.

She now earns enough money to make monthly contributions and manageable withdrawals from the VSLA, and can afford to buy food and medication for her dairy goats throughout the year.

In turn, her goats produce a steady supply of milk, providing a stable income for Irene and her husband – more than enough money to send their children to school.

Irene has employed a labourer and plans to buy more goats in the near future. Her family farm is now a profitable, sustainable business.

“There are no financial institutions that would have given a loan to a small-scale mixed farmer in a dry area like ours,” Irene explains.

“If I didn’t get money from the VSLA, I would not be able to maintain the health and milk production of my goats. Now I am able to sustain my customers’ demand for milk, even through the dry periods.”

Is part of Barclays community investment programme, which focuses on enterprise, employment, financial capability and financial inclusion.

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