Better Globe Forestry Ltd’s (BGF) vision is to eradicate poverty in Africa. A large proportion of the population living in poverty on the continent is smallholder farmers who live in the countryside. BGF operates tree plantations in Eastern Africa. Through microfinance, they create conditions for people living close to the tree plantations to earn their own money. Microloans enable farmer communities to expand their farming operations and to increase their income.

So far we have funded one microloan bank in the Mboti area in Kenya and yet another bank is funded and in the start-up phase. The banks are run by our partner K-Rep Fedha Services Co. Ltd. Microfinance for the poor is a proven way to help people to get themselves out of poverty. Microloans are small loans without any collateral requirements.

As of early 2020, BGF has funded two microloan banks in Kenya. A third community-owned microfinance bank is on the way soon. The banks in Kenya are run by BGF partner K-Rep Fedha Services Co. Ltd. and funded through the sale of our most important product, the trees4saving package.

Microfinance for the population living in poverty, when made available in an ethical way, is a proven way to help people get out of poverty. Microloans are small loans without any collateral requirements.

In 2006 the banker Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh and his Grameen bank received the Nobel Peace Prize1. Yunus had shown that it is possible to create economic and social development from the bottom up. The Nobel Foundation further motivated its decision;

Lasting peace cannot be created without large groups of people finding ways to break out of poverty. Microfinance is one such alternative for people who do not have access to financial services.

The microloan banks that Better Globe AS helps to finance through the donation package are cooperatives owned by the borrowers, who, by the year 2020, number over 5,000 families. So Better Globe AS and BGF do not own, operate, or make money from microloan banks. BGF only helps establish the village banks where they can help the most people using funds provided by the customers of Better Globe AS.

A micro borrower is making an installment payment on her loan. The bank has a repayment rate of close to 97 percent!

A new borrower at the village bank initially needs to buy a bank book where all future bank transactions will be registered. Borrowers also attend a four-week training course in the basics of economics. Among other things, they learn the different ways a loan can create income and how to reduce spendings. After that, the potential borrower can receive their first loan. Because of their fiscal responsibility and dedication to improving the family’s outcome, women are prioritized for the microloans.

Lending levels and maximum repayment times

The first loan may be between 1 200 and 10 000 Kenyan shillings (equivalent to around 10 to 84 euros in June 2020), with a six-month repayment period. The loan must be repaid before they can make a new loan. With each repayment of a loan, progressively larger loans with extended repayment periods are made available.

How are microloans used?

The loans are often used in part to make life more comfortable. That could mean acquiring metal roofs or mattresses. Credit also goes toward income generation, such as developing agriculture, livestock, or other business activity. A loan is also used to reduce expenditure by buying a stove that burns wood more effectively. Or a solar lamp, which can provide long-term savings in terms of both health and money compared to kerosene lamps.

Loans can pay school fees for the children, or help build or renovate homes or buildings. The borrowers can also borrow assets, like chairs (for businesses like cafés), water tanks, and solar panels.

Investing in a sewing machine brings a new stream of income for one of the bank’s micro-borrowers

Since the borrowers are co-owners of the village bank, they receive part of the profits at the end of the year. Each year, 40 percent of the profits are divided between the owners and 60 percent reinvested in the bank.

Revolving fund in Uganda

In 2018, BGF started a tree planting project with Yele Ikom Can Atur Farmers’ Association (YICAFA) in the Dokolo district, Northern Uganda. After consulting the local communities and key players in the microfinance sector in Uganda, it became evident that the community-owned Village Bank concept adopted in Kenya would not work in Dokolo.

The best option to support the local farmers was to establish a revolving fund. The funds revolve over three years. The aim was to help YICAFA with the creation of a cassava planting project to reduce poverty and increase food security in the surrounding areas.

As in Kenya, the implementation has been a massive success, with thousands of contract farmers being supported. In addition to the cassava project, BGF also supports contract farmers who plant Melia azedarach (Persian Lilac) and Moringa oleifera trees in Uganda.

Empowering the local communities

When you become a trees4saving customer, you help provide a better life for those who need it and help families gradually move out of extreme poverty. Through social entrepreneurship with Better Globe AS, you support children’s education, microfinance, and local business and income opportunities in the rural areas of Kenya and Uganda.

Save some of your money in trees and help reduce poverty

We invite you to make a difference in East Africa and contribute to a better world. Your trees will be managed in an ethical, sustainable, and long-term way. Click on the link to our shop and make a socially responsible purchase today. With us, it is profitable to help others.