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The Mazera’s Community Bank which has been operating in Kenya for the past 5 years. Today, the Bank has launched the Harambee Spirit Community Loan with the aim of encouraging communities to support their youth to implement income generating social development projects. The loan will be piloted in Mazera’s District after which the Bank is named.

With a population close to ½ a million, 70% of whom are below the age of 30 years, Mazera’s District has been looking for ways to enable the youth create wealth form themselves, create employment and engage in sustainable development projects. Thanks to free education, many of the young men and women are educated to secondary school level which, in Kenya, ensures that each person is equipped with vocational skills to assist them in wealth creation even if for whatever reason, they are not able to progress to tertiary education.

So what is the Harambee Spirit Loan? To answer this we need to look at the work Harambee. Harambee is a Kiswahili word meaning 'to work together for progress’ 'to pull together'. Kenya has been “living the Harambee Spirit” since independence in 1964 when so many social and economic projects were required and there were very limited resources in government coffers to undertake them (sadly this appears to be the case over 50 years later). With the Harambee Spirit, when I want to plant maize (corn) on my farm, I would call my neighbors, relatives and friends and in a day do an enormous amount of work.

With the Harambee Spirit Loan, the Mazera’s Community Bank is borrowing from this concept to give individuals and community groups the opportunity to fund youth within their community who are interested in implementing sustainable income generating businesses. The Bank will work with the youth to develop business funding proposals that address social development issues within the community. The proposals will then be made available to members of the community and discussed during special community sessions held by the Bank. Individuals or community groups are then wholly or partially fund the business. The Bank will follow up and assist the youth to implement the project successfully and sustainably. The funding proposal is limited to a maximum of Kenya Shillings 10,000 (equivalent to US$ 125). The loan is fully guaranteed by the Bank and each individual or group lender gets a Mazera’s stone curved with the loan amount + interest on it to be redeemed by the Mazera’s Community Bank after a specified period.

The Mazera’s Community Bank hopes to encourage communities to invest in their own community development by investing in their youth. It also hopes to foster the spirit of social entrepreneurship and social responsibility.

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