Client Visit


Country: Kenya
Capital: Nairobi
Area: 580’367 km²
Population: 55.8 Million (2021)
Language: English, Swahili
Currency: Kenyan shilling (KES)
Geography: East African Country with low plains rise to central highlands and with the coast on the Indian Ocean. Landscape and Climate: Tropical along the coast to temperate inland to Arid in the North, Temprate in the inland and tropical along the coast. Well-known wildlife with the “Big Five” (Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhinoceros, and Elephant)
EMF Exposure in Africa and Middle East: 14.6%

In 2017, Findex data showed that 1.7 billion adults worldwide remained unbanked, including an estimated 400 million in Africa. However, financial inclusion in Africa has improved from 35% in 2017 to 48% in 2022. According to research papers, microfinance institutions had reached almost 8 million borrowers across Africa as of 2018.

Yehu Microfinance Services Limited (“Yehu” or “the MFI”) is a nondeposit taking microfinance institution that was incorporated in Kenya in 2007. Yehu is an impact driven institution with its headquarter in Mombasa. It has branches in rural and underserved regions e.g., Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Meru and Makueni. The MFI is amongst the few financial institutions in Kenya that are solely implementing the group lending methodology (Grameen lending model) as well as offering credit to rural and marginalized microborrowers who co-guarantee each other’s loans. To cater to their borrowers’ needs, the MFI has curated various products across various sectors e.g., crop and animal farming, trade, education, house improvements, sustainable energy etc. A key highlight is that over 76% of the MFI’s borrowers are women.

The photo below was captured during the on-site due diligence client visit, where our investment officers attended a center meeting in Kilifi to assess the credit underwriting and collection practices. The center we visited comprised of three groups with five members each. The meeting was attended by 15 of the center members (all female), the center officer (Yehu personnel), and the branch manager. All the attendees ran small-scale businesses i.e., fruit and vegetable kiosks, mandazi and fish street vendors, poultry farming, crop farming etc. In brief, the meeting procedure comprised of; the recording of attendance, ratification of previous meeting’s minutes, financial principles training by the center officer, savings collections and loan repayments at group levels, as well as discussions on other matters.

Brian McConnell, Vice President Africa Region and Mary Mukuria, Senior Investment Analyst together with the microborrowers supported by Yehu.

Mike Rutomera, Remo Oswald, Roger Müller and Mary Mukuria together with the Premier Credit team during the branch visit in Nairobi.

The institution’s profile aligns with the mandate of both funds under EQ’s advisory i.e., Spark+ Africa Fund and EMF Microfinance Fund. We are in the process of closing the first transaction with Spark+ to support Yehu’s clean cooking product offering. The MFI sells clean cooking solutions (improved cookstoves and LPG cylinders and accessories) on credit, hence playing a key role in transitioning end users away from dirtier fuels i.e., firewood, charcoal, kerosene etc. Our combined investees in the Africa and ME region have about 2 million active borrowers. The investees with relatively more borrowers have a digital lending product in place, and hence client acquisition is not limited to the traditional brick and mortar channels. Africa has been a trailblazer in expanding access to digital financial services, which has driven the expansion of financial inclusion. The improvement in financial inclusion has been significantly fueled by the quick uptake of mobile money accounts. Data from the Global Findex Database indicates that in some Sub-Saharan African economies, such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, more adults have a mobile money account than a financial institution account.

Client Visit

Nairobi, Kenya

During our client visits in Nairobi, we were able to gain a first-hand experience of the professional relationships between MFIs and microborrowers within the region. This helped us gain a better understanding of the local microfinance sector.

Remo Oswald, Managing Partner, with a long standing client of one of our invested MFIs in Nairobi, Kenia

We had the chance to visit and hold in-depth conversations with the local microborrowers, where we learnt about their experiences first-hand. This provided us with valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities they face, as well as the overall impact that microfinance has had on their lives. Premier Credit Limited is a credit-only microfinance institution with several branches throughout Nairobi, that aims to build lasting relationships with its clients. We had the pleasure of visiting their Kangemi, Nairobi Branch, where we were introduced to part of their investment team. James Kinyanjui, the Regional Manager of the Nairobi North Region, and his team described to us their day-to-day business activities and tasks, such as daily team meetings, target setting, strategic planning, and client updates. After that very detailed and insightful presentation, we were invited to visit one of their microborrowers, Nelly Muiruri’s farm. Upon arrival, Mrs. Muiruri took us on a welcome tour through her property, as she explained how things have changed for her since she took out her first loan with Premier Credit. She has been their client for almost ten years and has managed to build a profitable business through her farm. In addition to her successful career as a microborrower, she is also a proud owner of a cookstove that runs on natural gas. But this was not all. Just a few meters away, was a biodigester that she built on her own, and uses to recycle animal dung from the livestock on her farm to gas. By the end of the tour, we were all very impressed by Mrs. Nelly Muiruri.

Overall, our field trip to Nairobi was a valuable learning experience that introduced us to new perspectives that helped deepen our understanding of microfinance in that region.