Kenya Violence Hits Home

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jan 17


As you may or may not know, I am a micro lender through, an organization that provides small loans to people across the world to help grow their businesses. That smiling person above is Moses Kwamba, whom I have lent $50, a portion of an overall loan of $2000 that allowed Moses to expand his already successful tailoring business in Kenya.

Today, I received an e-mail from the Kiva organization around the violence that has happened in Kenya, where Moses lives, and the effect it has had there on the population in general and Kiva’s business loans in particular.

Here are some unreported statistics and information:

Dear Kiva Lenders,

I wish to thank you for your continued concern and support during this very difficult moment in Kenya’s history. We have been a peaceful Country in a generally troubled region and people sort of took the peace for granted.

The country is now battered almost to a pulp and blood spilt with vengeance, senseless killings and wanton destruction. Markets, food stores and shops have been looted. Hospitals are dysfunctional and health centers incapacitated by riots and barricades. The violence, death and destruction witnessed in the Country for the last couple weeks has jolted the Nation into conscience and every body is now craving normalcy.

While peace is slowly returning to all affected parts of the Country, the impact of the riots has been devastating. Hundreds of people have been killed turning thousands of innocent children into helpless orphans and over one million people have been displaced, becoming internal refugees over night.

The impact of the riots is most felt in the micro and small business sector. Over 1 million small businesses were looted and or burnt down destroying the only source of income to millions of Kenyans. Most of the fighting and destruction occurred in slum areas in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kericho in Rift Valley. These regions are home to over 70% of Ebony Foundation’s clients and as you can imagine almost all of our clients in these regions have been affected by the riots. Only one region- (Mount Kenya) which is home to about 20% of Ebony Foundation’s clients was spared the violence. The economy in this safe region is now getting stretched as the residents have to now house the displaced population.

We have recently completed auditing the riot’s impact on our clients and as of yesterday about 4,900 of our clients had been badly affected by the riots:

— About 1,532 of our clients were displaced and both their homes and business premises burnt down. This population is currently housed in church compounds and police stations.

— Another 2,479 clients had their business premises burnt down or looted leaving them with no source of income at all.

— 833 clients had their homes looted or burnt down and about 56 clients are missing and feared dead or critically injured.

We arrived at these figures through a survey being administered at holding grounds, police stations, and through reliable reports from groups and community leaders. Our staff and local group officials have also been committed to conducting field assessments. The biggest tasks at the moment are to feed and house the displaced people, and to finance the reconstruction of the small businesses that were affected in order to enable the people to reclaim their source of income. In addition, Ebony Foundation (Kiva’s representative in Kenya — Scot) is now helping other MFI’s audit their clients.

Ebony Foundation has formed the following committees to address the above issues:

— A humanitarian committee that is working with the International Red Cross to provide food, shelter and medical care to the victims.

— A business reconstruction committee that is working with the affected clients to re-finance and rebuild the small businesses that were looted and/or burnt down.

— A compliance committee that is studying the legal and contractual aspects of the affected loans to arrive at the best policy action.

Thus, we ask for your continued patience as many loan repayments will be late, and it even may be impossible for some loans to be repaid in full at all. Thank you for your patience as we work hard to address all of these difficult issues, to serve our borrowers and help them recover, and to repay loans as quickly and as much as is possible in the coming months.

I’ve gone online and told Kiva to consider my loan to Moses as paid in full. The unknown is whether Moses, his wife and two children are caught up in this nightmare. I’m hoping for the best.

If you can help, consider giving either to a relief organization or to Kiva via a loan to one of their wonderful people. You can positively impact a person’s life through their work.