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News and Resources

Housing Microfinance Underway in Kenya

News and Resources

By Barry Pinsky

Rooftops Canada’s housing microfinance program has graduated from the test stage to real loans – and is already helping 185 families. A first instalment of $245,000 was released to the National Cooperative Housing Union of Kenya (NACHU), Rooftops Canada's longest-standing partner. This enabled two housing co-ops to purchase land for 160 families, and 25 other housing co-op members are receiving loans to build, upgrade or extend their houses.
The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada is lending $80,000 to support the program, along with $250,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency. These funds are leveraging a loan from a local co-op bank. The final transfer in March will enable three co-ops to purchase land and help many more families to improve or build new housing.
I met with loan recipient Charity Nyambura of Soweto Kayole Housing Cooperative Society in November. Her co-op was organized by NACHU in 1988 when families were evicted to make way for roads and public works projects. They were re-settled in an area with few services, and Charity’s family built a small shack. But over the years, with a series of small loans, the site has been filled with seven rooms arranged on either side of an outdoor courtyard. The front room is a shop where Charity sells fruits and vegetables. Her children grew up in the house and two adult children and their families still live with her.
“I have at long last settled down and will soon finally complete my house without fear of being evicted again”, says Charity with a smile on her face.
The NACHU - Rooftops Canada - CHF Canada loan program provided the loan for Charity’s sitting/living room, where she hosted us. Once this loan is paid off, she plans to take out one more loan to upgrade the toilet and washroom. Twenty-two years of hard work to build a home in which to raise her family!
NACHU is also involved in Charity’s community’s struggle to pave the roads in an area dense with housing and shops. It is trying to ensure that people have access to better water supply and eventually sewers to replace the existing holding tanks.
Rooftops Canada’s work to build NACHU’s capacity to handle a burgeoning HMF program has attracted new funding from Homeless International, a UK-based group, and the Swedish International Development Agency. They are committed to help cover both HMF capital needs and core costs to assist NACHU’s growth towards financial sustainability.