With only TWO days left before we celebrate all the work of the young people who work tireless and lead sustainability, we hear from a young woman, Peris Bosire from Kenya:
Q: Peris you recently received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award for the work you have done as the Founder of FarmDrive, please tell us more about you and your initiative.
Peris: My name is Peris Bosire. I’m the Founder of FarmDrive ; a Kenyan-based social enterprise that connects unbanked and underserved smallholder farmers to credit, while helping financial institutions cost effectively increase their agricultural loan portfolios. Using simple mobile phone technology, alternative data sets, and sophisticated data analytics, FarmDrive is closing the critical information gap that keeps smallholder farmers from loans that would allow them to grow and diversify their businesses.
Potentially creditworthy smallholder farmers are often denied loans because they lack the traditional credit profiles that lenders rely on to evaluate borrowers. Financial institutions do not have well-designed and operationally efficient methods of accurately assessing and managing smallholder farmers’ risk, making them reluctant to lend to farmers. Farmers are therefore left with little access to credit, and financial institutions with a hole in their client base and product line. The challenge is more pronounced for women and youth farmers as they culturally do now own collateral required by banks as security for loans.
To bridge this gap, FarmDrive has developed an innovative credit assessment model that provides detailed risk profiles on smallholder farmers to financial institutions. This solution will not only unlock millions of dollars of previously risk-averse capital for smallholder farmers, it will improve the livelihoods of entire communities, thereby alleviating poverty, hunger, and inequality.
FarmDrive’s comprehensive algorithms generate credit profiles and tailor-made loan products for farmers based on the nature of their farming activities. Thus, when farmers apply for a loan using the mobile application, financial institutions are presented with pre-vetted clients and individualized loan products that are further de-risked with weather-index insurance.
As you can imagine, my drive to sustainably improve the livelihoods of unserved smallholder farmers is incredibly personal. I have experienced first-hand the effects of poverty having grown up in an impoverished remote farming community in Kenya. And as kid in a rural village of Africa, I grew up observing a paradox: smallholder farmers are the most genuine and hardworking people in our communities yet confined to an endemic cycle of poverty. My experiences growing up created a sense of awareness of the inequalities in the world around me and inspired my determination to be a changemaker in my community, in Kenya, in Africa, and in the world.
In 2015 FarmDrive developed a minimum viable product and launched with Musoni Kenya, a Kenyan microfinance institution. FarmDrive is now onboarding more financial institutions to their system in order to increase lending capacity to smallholder farmers. Since beginning operations in May 2015, FarmDrive has helped disburse over $100,000 in loans to smallholder farmers in Kenya that have never received credit before.
With just $30 at the right time, many farmers could change the course of their lives and lift themselves out of extreme poverty. However, lack of access to capital limits the ability to afford quality farm inputs, access modern farming equipment such as tractors and other new technologies which better assist farmers with yielding more quality crops.
I assert that agriculture is a prime source of employment for youth in most Commonwealth countries. However, lack of capital to start and improve farming activities drives many young people to urban cities in search of rare jobs. Through FarmDrive, young people interested in pursuing and expanding agriculture now have a fair chance at accessing capital. Through a joint initiative with CTA dubbed “Apps4Ag” , FarmDrive is training at least 500 youth farmers to use FarmDrive’s mobile technology for financial management and to access credit.
One of the young farmers we trained is Pius Mitei from Nakuru County in Kenya. Prior to our training, Pius was among many young people that were let go off their job at a freight company due to revenue losses. Confounded, Pius went back home and decided to engage in poultry farming. Despite his ambition, he was unable to get access to credit to start . Because of FarmDrive, Pius is not only a proud owner of a successful poultry business but has managed to inspire other youth from his village to start farming activities. These young people have successfully repaid their first time loans and taken bigger loans to expand their projects. When I last spoke to them, they were selling their french beans to one of the biggest exporters in the country!
Photo Credit: Alice Lee Photography
I’m very passionate about the SDGs and helping smallholder farmers access vital credit is our action towards achieving the global goals sustainably. I’m dedicated to ending poverty, ending hunger, achieving gender equality, promoting sustainable economic growth and reducing inequalities globally. I specifically commit to increasing the proportion of women getting access to productive credit. If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
I’m humbled that my work at FarmDrive is significantly contributing to local, national, regional and global development along with the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Message for the youth
My message to the youth is to be action oriented and deliberate in achieving the 17 SDGs. Each one of us has a role to play in the Road to 2030, in our different environments and dynamic capacities, let’s endeavour to do something that will lead us closer to attaining an SDGs. Leadership starts with you! There’s never a perfect timing, you just have to start! You are always going to have limited resources but make that single step that will lead to 1000 miles with the resources you have today. Our best resource as youth is our potential!