Poverty Is Sexist

Zawadisha is a non-profit whose mission is to finance the livelihoods of rural Kenyan women. One way we do that is here, through our Social Good Marketplace. Want to know more about our beginnings? Our founder Jen Gurecki shares why she started Zawadisha.

Why did I start our microlending program in Kenya? Well, poverty is sexist.

While both men and women are affected by poor infrastructure, women bear the brunt of Africa’s infrastructure deficit. And as a young graduate student, I had the audacity to think that I could do something about it.

Women, as the primary caregivers in the home, are the ones responsible for collecting water, finding fuel wood, cooking on sub-par stoves, and working by toxic kerosene and paraffin lamps. These lamps are dim and expensive, create poor indoor air quality, and cause fires. Without electricity, household tasks are more laborious and much less efficient. Furthermore, women may spend up to 20 hours per week collecting water; this represents two full months of lost labor potential.

As a result, women are chronically time-poor. They are forced to make difficult decisions around seeking healthcare, earning an income, or attending to their children’s and their own education. Despite the innovations in clean energy and water, the cost is prohibitive for many rural families, making solar lamps, rain water tanks, and clean cook stoves out of reach.

Traditional micro-finance institutions are not equipped to deal with these issues or this population. They struggle in rural areas because of minimal community engagement, low trust, and high fees. Therefore, communities continue to be left out and marginalized.

Zawadisha's model is designed to address rural-specific issues like low levels of community engagement and trust by providing in-house credit, direct delivery to villages, after-sales service, and training, all facilitated by a local, Kenya team.

And the results have been impressive. Since we've started, we've maintained a 96% repayment rate. We've grown our loans from just 12 in our first year to to thousands 10 years later. Our model works in rural communities because it was designed specifically for them.  

Want to learn more about Zawadisha? Join us at our 2021 We Are Change Makers event. Get info and tickets here. 

Did you know that all proceeds from our shop benefit our micro-lending program in Kenya? Pretty cool, huh? Click here to shop our handwoven baskets, made by the women of Zawadisha.