ICRI helps to sponsor a program in Kenya called Thriive, which is an interest-free micro loan facility aimed at financing small and growing enterprises in the “missing middle” — typically with 10 employees or less, that are too big for microfinance institutions, but too small to secure commercial bank credit. Thriive supports small businesses and promotes a culture of social responsibility in challenged communities by providing two important components: capital and compassion. Instead of repaying their loan to Thriive, the businesses pay it forward with donations of job training and in-kind goods to the most vulnerable in their communities, equal to the value of the loan. Thriive has programs all around the world, which you can read more in-depth about here.
In Kenya, the 11 Thriive 2013 businesses that were approved and funded were invited for a orientation session at the ICRI Africa offices in January, where the business owners expressed their successes and challenges in the procurement phase, and also received information about the next steps in growing and assessing their businesses.
Thriive also held a key staff training for one of the Thriive business’s staff last month, training them on customer service, teamwork, and business communication. The training had a turnout of 30 participants with great positive feedback, and we hope that another one of these trainings will be held soon.
We recently visited some of the new businesses to check on their progress in terms of business growth and to see their various repayments firsthand. Some of the businesses that were visited included Albright Cleaning Services, Otty Barbershop, and Jina Engineering, almost all of which deal with the training of youth in their various sectors. Their trainees said they were grateful for the opportunity they had received through Thriive, and that with their new experience they had a much better chance at success in the job market. Some even said that they were hopeful that after the training they would be able to start their very own businesses. We're excited for the growth of these new businesses, and to see the way in which they end of contributing and fortifying their local community, and we'll keep you updated as they progress.