Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kenya: Chapter 2 - Yehu

(All photos courtesy of the one and only: Ryan Gledhill)

I have spent the last two days in a frenzy of tribal song, dance and food with rural village women and their young ones. These women meet every 1 to 2 weeks as part of a micro-credit organization called "Yehu" (meaning "Our Bank" in their native dialect). "Yehu" began in 1999 as one of the many brilliant ideas of Luis Pope and friends (below). Luis, along with 4 other donors, chipped in $5,000 each to start a micro-credit lending program to 300 eager women. Now, the organization has flourished into 20,000 women in 200 different villages. These women meet every one to two weeks in small groups called "Centers," many walking more than 10 kilometers in bare feet on native dirt roads to the meetings. At the meetings they make payments toward their loans, bond with their "sisters" and catch up on the latest gossip. When a woman takes out a loan for her business, she does it as part of a group of 5 women who act as co-signers for each other. That way, if a woman can't make her payment, everyone has to chip in to help her. This also creates a certain level of responsibility for each woman to hold up her end of the bargain. Statistics show that women who take out a micro-credit loan through Yehu are eventually able to at least double their daily earnings of about 50 cents a day to $1-$2 a day. Pretty amazing, right?

Meet Luis Pope: founder of Yehu, Basa Body and Coast Coconut Farms (all organizations that provide jobs for the people of Kenya. He takes no salary from these businesses).

A "Yehu" Center Meeting

A village "Grandmother."

The colors here are so vibrant. The women wrap their bodies in these gorgeous "kangas."

Women in Yehu groups typically sell things like mangos, coconuts, makuti (thatched roofing), fish, donuts, kangas, cashews, coal, and a few might run a small hotel.

We sang and danced with each other after all banking transactions were taken care of (my favorite part!).

The children here are so well behaved and adorable. During the meetings, older siblings will look after the young ones and carry the babies on their backs in a kanga wrap.

If you'd like to make a donation to Yehu, then click here. To receive 10% off of any scrumptious Basa Body pure coconut oil product, click here and use the code: mindy. Want to try the products first? You can find Basa Body products at Cherry Lane Boutique in Provo, UT on 500 N. University Ave. Tell them "Large Marge sent ya!" Just kidding. Tell them that Mindy sent you :-)


  1. What an amazing experience Mindy! And congrats on the wee babe due in August! Amazing! I am very, very excited for you and the Mr. :). Love you, friend.

  2. Very exciting to hear about your jouney, Mindy. It's impossible for me to not be ultra jealous... :) It makes me miss Uganda and the 3 months I spent there. I miss the people. I miss the beauty. I miss Chapati...yes.

    Been fun to read 1st and 2nd chapters, awaiting the 3rd. Thanks for sharing! Be safe and continue to have an incredible time!

  3. Great to see you post about Yehu and micro-finance. Social Entrepreneurship is the way that this world can bring about sustainable change and one day end poverty!

    (South Africa)

  4. SO two things. Congratulations on the bun in the oven! Exciting!!! And two - Basa body rocks! It was a Valentines gift from the husband, because he saw your blog posts on it! Woo hoo! Lov'n it! PS. Tell Cjane to take me to Africa! It's so humbling to see your pictures and read your posts! Keep us updated!

  5. What an amazing trip! And I loved the pictures, thank you so much for sharing them.

  6. Beautiful photos. I am sure the experience is even more beautiful!

  7. This is so awesome!!!!! In my nonprofit class me have been reading about Muhamud Yunus who started the Grameen Bank, which became the foundation for the other micro-credit lending programs like Yehu! I absolutely love that what I am learning here at USU is important and affects people around the world!!!

  8. these photos are absolutely amazing!