Support for small businesses helps create jobs for women in rural Kenya
By Ajay Rao
Director, OPIC Small and Medium Enterprise Finance
Like many emerging market small towns, Rumuruti, a rural town in central Kenya, is facing tough economic times. The severe drought in the region has reduced output and income for many local farmers and herders. Unemployment is high and women are often especially hard hit since they have fewer opportunities to participate in the formal economy.
In places like Rumuruti, small businesses are a key source of jobs and opportunity and when I recently visited, I saw how OPIC’s support for small business lending has helped one local rose grower manage drought conditions, create jobs and increase livelihoods.
Credible Blooms used a $2.3 million loan from OPIC-supported SFC Finance Limited (SFC), to add infrastructure and equipment to the ten hectares of land where it grows 24 varieties of roses for export to 14 countries. Credible Blooms purchased pumps for irrigation and a water reservoir to help it manage drought conditions. The company also purchased greenhouses, a packing facility, cold rooms and refrigerated trucks. The increased yields and income that resulted have helped the business grow to become one of the biggest employers in the region.
Today, Credible Blooms has more than 470 employees, 65 percent of them women and for many of them, this is their first formal employment, and is enabling them to support their families and save for a brighter future. Credible Bloom’s thriving business has also helped support economic development in the region. Electricity has been introduced, a new shopping center is being built and there is a burgeoning rental house market for employees.
Credible Bloom’s expansion was supported with financing from SFC, a non-bank financial institution that OPIC supports through its U.S. investor Microvest Capital Management. Microvest, joined with AfricInvest, FMO, and Finnfund, to create SFC to provide financing to small and medium enterprises in Africa.