Recently I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Africa (for the first time!) as part of my work with the Whole Planet Foundation. We attended the Africa Middle East Microcredit Summit in Kenya, which was wonderfully informative and attended by dignitaries from all over the world — including our Foundation’s advisor and the “father of microcredit,” Professor Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank.
After the Summit, our team visited Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. When impoverished people come in from the countryside to live and find work in Nairobi, Kibera is about the only place they can afford to live, often with up to eight people living in one small hut. Ingrid Munro founded Jamii Bora Trust in 1999 in order to help the mothers of classmates of her sons — the mothers were beggars in Kibera. That initial group of 50 women beggars who joined together to save money has grown to over 260,000 members of Jamii Bora Trust, which empowers families throughout Kenya. “Jamii Bora” means “better families” in Swahili and, as a microfinance institution, they help families create or expand small, often agricultural businesses, enabling clients to buy a cow or tools for irrigation or seed for their crops. They believe that any family, however poor or hopeless, is capable of getting themselves out of poverty.
In October of 2008, Whole Planet Foundation teamed up with Unitus and Jamii Bora Trust, authorizing a grant of $657,000 to fund expansion of loans in the coffee growing regions of Kenya where Whole Foods Market sources coffee through Allegro Coffee Company, providing access to microcredit for over 70,000 families. Our partnership was formed in order to make a significant impact on global poverty by increasing access to life-changing microfinance services for the working poor. From Kibera, we headed to Nyeri to visit several branch offices and meet some Jamii Bora Trust members, including a lovely couple named John and Mary. Their loan from Jamii Bora Trust has helped them expand their small farm where they have added rain catchment systems for irrigation and are growing sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, coffee and kale. Thanks to John, Mary and other Jamii Bora Trust clients who raise kale and a traditional Kenyan meal that we ate just outside of Kibera, we developed this microcredit client-inspired recipe for sukuma wiki. The name translates roughly to "push the week," implying the ingredient's stellar ability to stretch meals, making them last to the end of the week. Throughout the country, the popular dish is eaten without utensils, with chapati (a variety of flatbread) or ugali (a type of cornmeal mush) used to scoop up bites instead. Give this recipe a try and let us know what you think. Seems to me that our countries share a taste for healthy food!