Organization Profile & Updates
Founder: Louis Pope
Founding Year: 2000
Total Borrowers: over 6,500
Current Borrowers (2004): 4,433
% of Women Borrowers: 95%
Clients Considered Poorest: 90%
Average Loan Size: $115
Average First-Loan Size: $65
Total Number of Loans: over 10,000
Total Funds Loaned (2000-2006): $1.3 million
Loan Profile (2006): $300,000+
Annual Expenses: $150,000
Number of Employees: 45
Repayment Rate: 94%
Yehu Microfinance1260 South 1600 West
Orem, UT 84058
PO Box 82120
tel.: (801) 426-0583
toll free: (888) 474-1937
fax: (801) 474-1919
Yehu = "Our" in Swahili. Yehu is a microfinance organization in the rural coastal region of Kenya. It provides financial and other support services for small businesses owned by the very poor living there, which can be used to start or expand their small businesses. It operates as part of Choice Humanitarian. It was created based on the principles and procedures of the world-renowned Grameen Bank.
Business Development Services
How Does It Work?
Five people form a group and join an existing Yehu centre. The group meets weekly in their village with several other groups and a Yehu worker. Each member contributes a small amount of savings for six months. After successfully saving for six months, a small loan is made to one member of the group. Money is loaned at a market interest rate. Loans are repaid on a weekly basis over a 6-month term.
Though a loan is made to an individual in the group, the entire group is responsible to repay the loan. The group encourages solidarity among members who effectively co-guarantee each other's loans. Loan amounts are small and the members have incentive to pay them back to be eligible to receive a larger loan and for other members of the group to receive their loan.
In the early years of high growth, Yehu continues to be dependent on private donations to fund day-to-day operations. While this will continue for several more years, Yehu is on the path to solid self-sustainability. Currently, about 50% of total operating expenses are covered with the income generated by existing operations. Once financially self-sufficient, Yehu will be able to access capital markets for loans at market and just below market interest rates to facilitate continued growth.
The Yehu Story
Louis Pope visited Kenya on an expedition with Choice Humanitarian in 1998. He had recently met with Mohammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank and when he arrived in Kenya, he felt that Microcredit was very much needed in the rural areas where Choice was working. He asked the country director of Choice to talk with the women in the various villages where Choice was working to see if there was interest in a village bank. When he returned to Kenya six months later there were 300 women ready and excited to form a microcredit institution. Louis and four friends each donated $5,000 to provide the seed capital for the loan fund. Choice's country director used a handbook from the UN called MicroStart and Yehu was formed. Yehu, in the local dialect, means "our" bank. This was the name the first group of women chose for their organization.
Rita de Nicolo Lugogo is CEO of Yehu in Kenya. She was born in Italy and educated in the United States. After earning a degree in Biology from the University of Connecticut, she joined the Peace Corp as a teacher in Kenya where she met her husband, Juma Lugogo. Rita and Juma raised their three children in Kenya. Rita's continued educational pursuits earned her a PhD from Virginia Tech in Human Nutrition and Foods. In 1993, Rita became Choice Humanitarian's full-time director in Kenya, a position which she fulfills in addition to her responsibilities at Yehu. In addition to Dr. Lugogo and her local management team, Yehu founders, key supporters, and several business leaders form an advisory committee to help direct affairs.
The leadership team from Choice Humanitarian also reviews progress at Yehu on a regular basis and has a direct channel for feedback and input.
Yehu is unique in that it is exclusively rural with no branches or centers in an urban or peri-urban area. A recent innovation is the concept of MicroFranchising which we are developing along with the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance. The first two pilot projects involve small-scale presses to make extra virgin coconut oil and using micro-irrigation water pumps to create businesses selling water and growing cash crops.