Technology supporting rural entrepreneurs | Spotlight, Juhudi Kilimo

Digital access to financial services for smallholder farmers is helping them hurdle the constraints they face with time, mobility and distance


In 2022, Abler Nordic invested equity in Juhudi Kilimo, a microfinance institution that finances agricultural assets for smallholder farmers in Kenya to boost productivity and yields.

Juhudi has a focus on economically empowering rural women entrepreneurs, who make up over 70% of their client base, and uses digital platforms to facilitate this.

For smallholder farmers, accessing financial services digitally can help them hurdle the constraints they face with competing demands on their time, mobility, and distance – creating more equitable access to financing for critical inputs such as seeds, fertilizer and farming equipment that helps them grow their productivity and income.

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Abler Nordic’s Norad-funded Technical Assistance facility helped Juhudi Kilimo to lay the ground work for the development of a mobile app to allow customers to make transactions and for Juhudi to disburse new loans digitally.

Customers can now monitor all loans and transactions on one platform, which is more convenient and less costly than visiting branches or waiting for their loan officer’s next visit. “In Kenya, the mobile penetration is very high, so we want to take advantage of that,” explains David Njiru, Chief Business Officer at Juhudi.

Today almost 98% of Juhudi’s loans are disbursed via the app with roughly 99% of customers also making mobile repayments.

“First we used to collect cash during our group meetings, but now with the help of technology I can run my businesses using my phone,”

Mercy Tanui, Juhudi Kilimo customer, Nakuru, Kenya

Mercy Tanui from Nakuru, Kenya, is a customer of Juhudi Kilimo and has built up several businesses including a mali mali (retail) shop, posho (maize) milling, crop planting and dairy farming. “First we used to collect cash during our group meetings, but now with the help of technology I can run my businesses using my phone,” says Mercy.

“With the help of Juhudi Kilimo, I’ve been able to start and expand my businesses, buy more dairy cows and get more knowledge on how I can undertake my agricultural activities and other businesses.”

Dealing with the effects of climate change is an ongoing challenge for small-scale farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. In December 2023, Abler Nordic embarked on a pilot technical assistance project with NORCAP to find ways to enhance the climate adaption and resilience of Juhudi’s customers through financial services. Elements of the project include examining how digital tools can be used to raise awareness and build knowledge around the effects of climate change – for example, by supporting the further development of the JUHUDIKA app to provide weather information and agricultural knowledge to help farmers navigate the changing farming conditions.

“Technology has helped us in many ways. It has been teaching us even how to farm, how we can draw the data from our crops so that we may increase our yield –this phone has assisted me in many ways,” says Peter Kiprono, a Juhudi customer from Nakuru, Kenya. “Now we can take our loan, and we have been taught how to use it, so we will not hesitate in paying our loans back, because they are put to good use.”

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