Category Archives: rural

Livestock as movable assets and financial collateral: Collected insights

Following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe, Kenya has just passed a law on the use of movable assets as collateral for loans. President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law a Bill allowing borrowers to use household goods, crops, live animals and even intellectual property to secure commercial loans in a move aimed at boosting access […]

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A matter of timing: seasonal opportunities

These stalls full of water pistols and balloons sprouted overnight a couple of days before the spring festival of Holi (March 13th 2017) – these vendors are neither local nor regulars in the market complex. They’re here to offer seasonal products and might even have been invited by the local shopkeepers to provide attractive temporary […]

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Bridging East Africa’ formal – informal financial services divide

Kenya’s formal inclusion looks pretty, the financial inclusion industry has been has been great at talking up its achievements over the past 10 years. Here, 75.3% of Kenyans are now formally included, a 50.3% increase from 19 years ago. Official statistics on mobile phone penetration is up to 80.5% of the population and there is general […]

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Bedrock of trade

A general merchant in Karatina market, Kenya. Photo credit: Niti Bhan

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Lowering the barriers to effective communication is the key to sustainable development

One of the challenges that we discovered during our multistakeholder workshop in The Hague a few years ago was that people tended to fall back on their expertise when faced with the discomfort of empathizing with farmer’s needs. Particularly so when the farmers in question were from Africa, and not from their own regions. Our […]

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Reframing the informal sector in the African consumer market: The real African middle class

This is Ruth’s shop, on the side of the highway, approximately 5km on the road to Kisumu, from Busia in western Kenya. Not quite directly part of the borderland’s economy, that trades incessantly with each other, these businesses still manage to feed off the energy of the hustle and bustle of biashara, as it flows […]

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Infrastructure has a direct relationship to how much your rural business can scale

This is a micro-wholesaler and retailer in a staple commodity. Infrastructural constraints limit the stock she can manage at one go – seen as the sack with her name on it. This indicates that it was sourced from some distance away, as this is the matatu’s informal package tracking service. It could have come from […]

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The hidden cost of doing business #informaleconomy

This looks like its a low cost business operation with low barriers to entry. All you need to do is find a decent tree under which to display your wares. The reality is that these entrepreneurs have numerous fees and costs that they must pay in order to do business, regardless of how informal it […]

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Changing flows of trade

This unassuming pile of clothes caught my attention on market day in Busia, Kenya. They are mitumba (secondhand clothes) from India. This is a recent development, apparently, as traditionally mitumba tends to come from the ‘west’ (as can be noted by the name on the bag shown below). Clothes sourced from India have begun showing […]

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Is Uganda’s rural, informal economy helping people climb over the poverty line?

I stumbled across this dataset on the World Bank’s open data website yesterday, and couldn’t resist making a table to convey the message. Uganda’s poverty headcount halved in the decade between 2002 and 2012. Their statistics are rated well enough that this doesn’t seem to be too far off the mark. In the three years […]

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