In Nairobi, approximately 2 million people, more than half the population, live in slums and informal settlements. Despite the deplorable conditions, they are required to pay considerable amounts in rent. According to Cities Alliance, “Most poor Kenyans want to have a home of their own…[yet] at every step…poor households face limited options or active enforcement of restrictive legislation.” (Shelter Finance for the Poor Series, Issue iv, April 2003)
Started as a club of fifty beggars in 1999, Jamii Bora Trust is the largest microfinance institute in Kenya and has more than 170,000 members. Its mission: to assist members to get out of poverty. Jamii Bora Trust works in slums throughout Kenya, providing access to critical services such as affordable housing and education and offering a support network to enable economic self-empowerment.
Jamii Bora Trust has launched Kaputei Town, a pioneering urban planning project 60 km south of Nairobi. The town is ecofriendly and includes residential neighborhoods, commercial, cultural and social centers as well as a wetlands wastewater recycling facility. The families can purchase the homes with micro loans.
Kaputei Town provides new homes for 2000 families, or approximately 10,000 people, drawn mostly from the slums surrounding Nairobi. Jamii Bora’s innovations in ecofriendly housing for the poor and in microfinance products can serve as a global model. Towns such as Kaputei contribute greatly to removing pressure from the city center and creating new ecosystems that complement neighboring communities and local industries.
Jamii Bora fully repaid Acumen Fund’s 2007 investment.