After heavy rains flooded John Macharia’s tailoring shop in 2015, damaging his stock, the 75-year-old considered quitting his business of 14 years.
But an offer came along he couldn’t refuse – a loan from a fund that partners with international aid agency World Vision, intended to help him recover from the disaster linked to a powerful El Niño climate pattern.
“It helped me restock my business,” said the father of five in his shop on Ole Ndutu Street in western Kenya’s Narok town. “It has also enabled me to expand my business.”
Macharia started with a loan of Sh360,000, and after repaying that in 15 months, secured another for Sh700,000.
“I have even bought a car and built housing units for renting out using the loan,” he said.
Macharia is among hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who frequently struggle with weather and climate extremes, including flooding and drought.
But many cannot obtain credit from commercial banks to cope with the impacts, because they are poor and viewed as high-risk.
The El Niño Recovery Lending Programme run by VisionFund International, the microfinance arm of World Vision, is helping to change that in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley region.
Kijoolu Nkoito, a farmer from Olooroito village in Narok County, has long been disadvantaged because she is not regarded as creditworthy by mainstream banks.
The widow burns charcoal for a living and sells local brew to feed her five children and keep them in school. But during the 2015 rains, driven by the El Niño phenomenon as Pacific waters warmed, she felt as though nature had turned against her.
Her home was inundated, sweeping away her kitchen utensils. And just when the floodwater had receded, pests invaded her maize field, destroying her entire crop.
But VisionFund’s lending programme allowed her to get her life back on track. “I have been able to set up a business selling maize with the loan,” said the 45-year-old.