Corporate Social Responsibility Activities
Corporate social responsibility activities can take many forms. They can be built into a company’s mission, or they can be goals the company sets in addition to their main business focus. Corporate social responsibility activities can focus on employee wellness, environmental safety, developing new entrepreneurs, or teaching a high needs population. We have found and collected a wealth of information about csr companies. Each one is slightly different from any of the others. Today we will focus on a company that cannot help but practice csr. It began in response to a pressing social problem in Africa: improving the quality of life for poor rural farmers.
The company, which is for profit, is called Juhudi Kilimo. The name is a mix of Swahili terms meaning “effort” and “agriculture.” The group is on a mission to “elevate the quality of life for rural smallholder farmers and enterprises by providing wealth creating financial solutions for agribusiness.” Their goal is to dramatically transform the livelihoods of farmers across East Africa.
A Problem of Access
Money is a huge factor for farmers and their families in these communities. 75% of working Kenyans are involved in rural agriculture. Nearly half of them lack access to financial services. Since banks and microfinance companies were not doing much to help this population, Juhudi Kilimo stepped up in 2004. The group began as part of the larger K-Rep Development Agency. K-Rep is a research and development microfinance NGO. The leaders of Juhudi Kilimo quickly realized they would need to spin off and become their own entity in order to meet their mission. By 2009, Juhudi Kilimo was acting as an independent for-profit social enterprise.
Juhudi Kilimo’s main business is providing loans, along with training, to smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. These loans are special because they finance farm and agricultural equipment. This brings in income right away for the farmers. The equipment makes the income sustainable, and it is insured to shield farmers from catastrophic losses. In case of default or failure to repay the loan, the equipment is used as collateral. The economic initiatives and new equipment help to spur growth in the communities around the recipients as well.
Ongoing Support, Community Engagement
The company goes even further in its corporate social responsibility activities by offering technical support and training for rural farmers. This includes advice on how to improve the farms and make the best use of resources. Business and finance training are also available. Juhudi Kilimo facilitates mobile money transfers to aid in the flow of capital to and from the farms.
Juhudi Kilimo took an existing business model-microlending-and made it available to more people by making small changes. Recipients and communities benefit from the new equipment, increased productivity, and business and technical training. The company is a great example of how for-profit entities, acting with csr as their foundation, can have a positive impact in ways few people could imagine.