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My experience as a Kiva partner impact fellow

It’s been almost 1 year now since I joined Kiva as a partner impact fellow. It has been quite an exciting experience seeing what I have achieved throughout my project and how I've developed various skills in research and project management.

My first assignment involved working with 2 partners - 1 in Kenya and 1 in Rwanda - to identify opportunities in their product portfolio to introduce new products or tweak existing products for the impact evaluation project.

In Kenya, I worked closely with the head of marketing and business development to identify the product and service in their portfolio in line with the project requirements. The end result of the assessment process was the concept note which we developed under the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) loan product.

This product has been offered under group liability contract and we identified an opportunity to tweak the product and offer it under individual liability contract. However, in Rwanda, due to changes in the management and organization takeover at the time we wanted to implement the project, we were not able to reach an agreement in identifying which project to undertake. From this I understood the importance of management when it comes to building partnerships in project implementation.

Throughout my fellowship I concentrated on working with the Kenyan partner, ECLOF Kenya, in implementing the CSA loan product starting from developing the concept note, drafting project proposals, engaging with field staff in Embu and attending borrower meetings. For further details about the CSA loan product here is another blog on the Climate Smart Agriculture.

I acted as the eyes and ears of the Kiva evaluation team in San Francisco, organizing meetings and being the face of the project in Kenya. With this responsibility, I have developed various organization skills including meeting goals on time, managing appointments, strategic thinking, project management and being flexible in working with partners.

One of the field activities I was involved in was the process of data collection during the baseline survey. I worked closely with the impact evaluation manager based in San Francisco in developing the survey questionnaires, identifying a data collection firm to conduct the baseline in Kenya and training the enumerators in Embu and Murang’a. Our first baseline survey was in Embu where we successfully interviewed 637 dairy farmers in September 2017, and the second was in Murang’a in December 2017. 

Training enumerators for the Murang'a baseline survey

Having done the data analysis for the Embu baseline survey, I was aware of the issues that we had to emphasize in training these enumerators so that they collect authentic data which will make analysis effective and quick.

Being part of the team that developed the project proposal and developing the questionnaire, I was able to ensure I conveyed the same understanding to the enumerators so that they understood the objective of the project and asked the correct questions. Having undertaken this Kenya project, I am confident to write project proposals, develop questionnaires, train enumerators and manage the implementation of a project.

As part of Climate Smart Agriculture, ECLOF Kenya works with local cooperatives in the value chain. In Murang’a, ECLOF is working with Kakaki Cooperative which is currently serving 400 farmers. 

Kakaki Dairy Cooperative in Murang'a County

The container below has a capacity of 5,000 litres, but currently the cooperative is collecting an average of 2,400 litres per day. ECLOF Kenya also works with local extension service providers to assist farmers in practicing more productive dairy farming. It is the objective of the cooperative to collect 10,000 litres of milk by the end of 2018. With the support from ECLOF Kenya and the extension services, this is possible. 

Touring Kakaki Dairy Cooperative

Some of the services that the extension service providers offer include knowledge on feeding the cows, how to build good cow sheds and fodder management. Below is a cow which was bought in the neighbourhood that originally produced 2 litres per day, but it now produces 20 litres per day due to the help of the extension services. 

Aryshire breed now producing 20 litres per day

Storage of 70 tons of silage

This silo contains 70 tons of silage, which the farmer has been using to feed his cattle for the past 6 months. By investing in building silos, a farmer is able to store large quantities of fodder for the continuous production of milk.

In the baseline study in Embu, most farmers on average faced challenges of accessing feed because they rely on green pasture and do not use silage. When it is the dry season the green pasture is unavailable thereby reducing productivity. One of the objectives of the extension service provider at Kakaki Cooperative is to ensure that farmers know how to process silage cheaply. 

Smart cattle pens

The above kinds of cattle pens are easy and cheap to construct and contribute significantly to milk production. 

In project management, it is important to ensure that the implementing partner understands the objectives of the project and follow the procedure and criteria in implementing the project.

As ECLOF Kenya started rolling out the pilot in Embu, one challenge was selecting and maintaining treatment and control groups. Having identified the treatment and control group from their administrative data, I had to work closely with the branch manager in Embu to understand the importance of keeping the treatment and control group throughout the piloting. 

Discussing the pilot with Embu Branch Manager

I am grateful for the opportunity I was given by Kiva to run this project and I am looking forward to the results of the pilot. Career wise, I am now focusing on being involved in research and impact evaluation projects, especially in development finance. The Kiva fellowship gives individuals an opportunity to travel the world, make a difference and gain a behind-the-scenes understanding of microfinance and social enterprises, all while meeting inspiring people working to improve financial access around the world. For more information about Kiva fellowships, click here.

To be a part of this amazing development in supporting smallholder dairy farmers, join Kiva lenders by lending as little as $25 to ECLOF Kenya borrowers and other partners here.

About the author

Lynnet Mlambo

Lynnet Mlambo was born and grew up in Zimbabwe, the fourth child in a family of six. Her dedication to the financial services sector began early on during her one year work-related learning in 2008, where she learned a lot about the struggles and challenges faced by micro-entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe, especially around access to financial services for women-owned businesses. She considers volunteerism as an opportunity to share knowledge and experience with others, learn new skills and gain professional exposure. She has volunteered with organizations that include Save the Children Zimbabwe and Junior Achievement Kenya. Lynnet has a personal motto, “discover to develop,” as she enjoys travelling, meeting new people, exploring new opportunities and gaining professional exposure. She has been to Kenya, Zambia and South Africa in pursuit of her professional dreams, including post graduate studies, attending micro-finance conferences and corporate social responsibility events. Lynnet has a Master’s Degree in Microfinance from Moi University in Kenya, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Zimbabwe, Certificates in Financial Analysis for Microfinance practitioners from Microfinance Association (UK) and Sustainable Microfinance Development Program from the University of New Hampshire.