One of the things that I learned about stewardship investing is how our investments in the U.S. can serve as a catalyst for continued change and impact for many people and communities. As part of my role at Praxis Mutual Funds, I traveled to Nairobi to see firsthand the effects of Praxis Mutual Funds investments in community development investing.
The third community development investing site I visited was Lendable Africa. Lendable provides capital to emerging and frontier market fintech companies and provides technology, asset management, and advisory services to leading investors.
While at Lendable Africa, I was reminded of the reasons it’s important to look deeper than the numbers and think in terms of the people and lives when considering the impact of community development investing. While at the headquarters meeting with head of Lendable Africa Sebastian Wichmann, I also met one of their investees, Watu Credit’s Head of Finance Kenya, Janis Strelis.
Founded in 2015, Watu Credit has seen rapid growth by providing financing for motorbikes popularly known as “boda bodas” in Kenya and a few other East African countries. The motorbikes are commonly used as a type of taxi service in both urban and rural areas, which provides the owner a way to make an income and support themselves and their families.
I was very impressed to hear about how the motorbike business helped to mitigate unemployment at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the pandemic started, Watu Credit took the time to work on their systems to improve internal efficiency, reducing the time it takes for customers to get a motorbike – now just a two-hour window from start to finish. This boosted business for the company, while helping thousands of Kenyans to start working as boda boda drivers.
Before the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, Watu financed around 5,000 motorbikes a month. After COVID, they have seen demand rise and are now selling 20,000-25,000 motorbikes a month. Watu now has 170,000 active customers around Kenya.
It was great to see how a Praxis investment in Calvert Impact Capital led to an investment in Lendable Africa and on to Watu Credit, which then impacted thousands of new small-business owners across Kenya.
Looking to learn more about Praxis Mutual Funds’ commitment to real impact? Download our 2021 Real Impact Report to learn about our seven distinct impact strategies, that show how investments can support and contribute to the change we want to see in the world.
Read more about real impact in Kenya
- Day one of real impact in Kenya: Stella sets the scene for firsthand community development investment stories.
- Day two of real impact in Kenya: A tour of solar powered farms.
- Day three of real impact in Kenya: How a home appliance can change lives.
- Day five of real impact in Kenya: Providing economic opportunity to rural communities.