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A revolving loan to finance a good cause

Futuremakers YBISOMO

18 Dec 2023

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A mushroom farmer in Kenya has ambitions to tackle food insecurity through extending her supply chain to Africa with a micro-loan supported by the Standard Chartered Foundation.

Ivy’s first-hand experience of climate change on farmers and food production in rural Kenya has inspired her to open a mushroom farm.

The eldest of five siblings, Ivy grew up in rural Maseno and her home’s rugged landscapes sparked a lifelong commitment to environmental preservation. She was eager to apply her skills and knowledge to drive positive change in her community.

Ivy said: “I had a business idea but had not given it much attention because I was not sure how to implement it. I thought I would follow my profession because I didn’t have the entrepreneurial skills and the confidence to start a business. I really wanted to do mushroom farming and provide solutions to food insecurity.”

Solving the problem of capital access

Many young people in Western Kenya face limited job opportunities and restricted access to capital. They turn to temporary employment while awaiting entry into their chosen fields, or participate in voluntary work or social entrepreneurship.

For Ivy, the turning point came when she heard about a new Revolving Loan Fund launched by Youth Business International and its member Somo. As part of Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, this innovative programme provides a holistic package of business support services with a low-interest loan and friendly repayment terms, alongside advice and guidance and voluntary support from Standard Chartered employees in Kenya.

Ivy said: “I became involved because I had a range of goals, from accessing resources and knowledge to expanding my networks and achieving rapid growth. The programme provided a structured and supportive environment for me and other entrepreneurs to work towards our aspirations and business objectives. I hoped to access valuable resources, such as funding, skills and knowledge, networks, market expansion, validation and feedback.”

Dream of a mushroom farm comes true

Over the 12-week programme, business trainers and a mentor helped Ivy create an elevator pitch, address local challenges, calculate financial projections and submit her business plan. Ivy received her initial investment and kickstarted her mushroom farm after she qualified for the acceleration programme.

The building blocks for Ivy’s entrepreneurial success included financial support, skills, a valuable network and a growth mindset to help her persevere and adapt in the face of uncertainty and evolving market conditions. She said: “These gains have not only helped me launch and grow my business, but also instilled confidence in my ability to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of entrepreneurship.”

With the loan, Ivy acquired a piece of land and intends building a production house to boost mushroom production and strengthen food security with her sustainable solution. Her mushroom business is now thriving and a source of pride shared by her supportive family.

Aspirations and passions align in social business

“The programme allowed me to pursue a career path that aligns with my passions and aspirations, which has positively impacted my overall wellbeing and happiness, which in turn, benefits my family,” Ivy added.

After providing her community with the health benefits of mushrooms, Ivy now wants to supply the whole of Africa and explore other ways consumers can enjoy her crop. Her five-year-plan includes having a fully functional modern mushroom production plant in Kenya producing four types of mushrooms – Oyster, Button, Ganoderma reishi and Shiitake –attracting local and international markets.

Ivy said: “Not only influenced my current business, but this programme also provided me with the knowledge, resources and mindset needed to envision and execute more ambitious and strategic future business plans. It has expanded my horizons, enhanced my business acumen and positioned me for continued growth and success in the years to come.”

About Futuremakers

Futuremakers by Standard Chartered is our global initiative to tackle inequality by promoting greater economic inclusion in our markets. Futuremakers supports disadvantaged young people aged 35 or below, especially girls and people with visual impairments, to learn new skills and improve their chances of getting a job or starting their own business.

Focussing on three pillars – Education, Employability and Entrepreneurship – Futuremakers aims to help the next generation learn, earn and grow.