On her first trip to Kenya, our founder, Elana, came face to face with women living in extreme poverty. She met women that didn't have the same opportunities you or I do, simply because of where they were born. She met strong, passionate and brave widowed women living in rural villages that desperately wanted a way to start over and support their families.
Kenya is a developing country where 70% of the country works in agriculture and 42% of the population live in extreme poverty. Widowed women are especially vulnerable as they face challenges like not being able to legally inherit their husband's land and often have little education. That's why we partner with a women's collaborative on the ground, called the Sisi Fund (Swahili for "we") that teaches business, agriculture, and accounting to women in five villages helping them build businesses and make a living.
Micro-loans are an effective tool for uplifting the poor through entrepreneurship. A model pioneered by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Mohammad Yunus, micro-loans are small loans, usually $100-$200 help people too poor to qualify for traditional loans. The Sisi fund in Kenya offers a lower interest rate than any banks nearby, and, instead of getting the interest rate back on what we lend, instead it goes back to the women to pay for financial education. Women, especially, are a great investment for developing communities. Even the United Nations agrees with us: "90% of a woman's income is re-invested back into her family versus 30-40% of men's".
The results are staggering. Women in the Sisi fund experience 400% increase, can afford to send their children to school, and start savings accounts.