Consistent streams of income are essential for a family to flourish, no matter where they live.
Buckner International is exploring new ways to support and encourage families within our key demographic while simultaneously expanding our footprint geographically. Through targeted “Impact Investing” – a new channel for change within Buckner – we’re directly investing in for-profit businesses who are making an innovative difference in their sector, while also creating meaningful work environments that provide sustainable jobs. Our capital investments in faith-inspired businesses will result in a sustainable financial return and measurable social impact over time.
Think of it as redemptive investing in business entities that are financially sound, well run and active champions for a “dignity-through-work” culture. There’s a common thread running through our impact investments that champion employees in ways to intentionally draw out their God-given creativity within environments that promote community.
Buckner’s Impact Investing team recently visited several businesses across East Africa where we have deployed capital. It offered an amazing view of what God’s doing through business.
In Rwanda: Expanding Buckner’s footprint
Urwego Bank helps Rwandans rebuild their dreams through microfinance lending and innovative savings groups. Urwego means “ladder” – a ladder of opportunity to underserved communities coupled with a restoration of dignity that breaks the cycle of poverty and encourages generational healing. Their innovative loan groups get capital into the hands of budding entrepreneurs with big dreams.
We met a mother of three who started with a $100 loan, a small table at the local market and a dream of being an importer of beautiful home goods. Today, she employs eight people in her three retail stores, and successfully manages a business line of credit.
Masaka Creamery has become Rwanda’s leading dairy and yogurt brand. Most of their employee base comes from the deaf community. These individuals would otherwise be marginalized and unemployable, but at Masaka, they have meaningful work that provides dignity and purpose.
In Kenya: Offering synergistic opportunities for Buckner Kenya
BURN (Life Saving Stoves) manufacturers fuel-efficient cooking appliances designed and manufactured in Kenya and used around the world. They’re impacting lives and the environment through affordable and portable options for clean cooking. To date, their stoves have impacted more than 20 million lives. Buckner Kenya will begin using BURN stoves in some of their kitchens.
MoKo began by manufacturing high-quality, affordable mattresses from recycled materials with fast delivery. Based in Nairobi, they are champions for encouraging women to consider careers in the manufacturing sector.
Taraji Afrika Schools nurture greatness and godliness in their students through four locations in Kenya. Since inception in 2010, they are committed to a holistic approach that unlocks the potential of their learners, including integration of disabled students into mainstream classrooms. There is opportunity for the schools operated by Buckner Kenya to collaborate with Taraji Afrika.
Kentegra is a Kenyan-based biotechnology firm that produces pyrethrum pale refined extract, an active ingredient from chrysanthemum flowers, for use as an effective organic pesticide. Kenya has the ideal growing conditions to produce the highest grade pyrethrum flowers, which bloom twice per month for 10 months of the year. Pyrethrum is safe for humans and approved for use on organic farms.
Thousands of local small farmers across Kenya are growing and selling chrysanthemum flowers directly to Kentegra through convenient outposts offering transparent weighing, pricing and fast funding. It's a mindset shift for farmers to move from the traditional maize (corn) crop to chrysanthemums, but the financial upside can be significant. Buckner Kenya plans to begin integrating this desirable crop into its own income-generating and client training programs near Kitale in western Kenya where the soil and altitude are perfect for these flowers.
Impact Investing at Buckner is just beginning but is proving to be a new and innovative engagement tool for creatively alleviating poverty, empowering both businesses and families while also creating pathways for employment. Our East African investments are in partnership with Talanton, Hope Global Investments and Impact Foundation.
Written by Lynn Hendricks, impacting investing and resources development manager for the Impact Advancement team at Buckner International.