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Country Profile: Ensuring Successful Farming Through Insurance in Kenya

Rose Goslinga is famous among Kenyan farmers for instituting infrastructures that allow for them to experiment with planting new cash crops. A true entrepreneur, Rose drew upon her educational background in economics and government service in Rwanda as well as on her personal experience growing up in Tanzania to conceive of a way to assist farmers and, on a larger scale, make strides in economic development in poor countries. Rose realized that small-scale farmers were hesitant to risk big investments in seeds and fertilizers for fear of a lackluster season due to weather factors outside of their control including droughts or floods. Therefore, she needed to find a way to mitigate their risk by implementing agricultural insurance, a precaution not subsidized by the Kenyan government like it is in wealthier countries.

Leveraging both the technology of wireless phone stations to perform accurate weather readings to measure wind, rainfall and temperatures in tandem with M-Pesa, a cashless system for financial transactions, Rose was able to frugally implement her enterprise, Kilimo Salama (Safe Agriculture). While many Kenyan banks were initially reluctant to do business with farmers, Rose forged two important partnerships with a large seed company, Syngenta, and fertilizer company, Seed Co. Endorsements for the efficacy and attractiveness of Rose’s insurance program quickly spread and farmers and insurers alike began to entrust the system to the point where thousands of farmers agreed to pay premiums to participate.

Enrollment is expected to reach twelve-thousand in 2013 and the Kilimo Salama staff grew exponentially from five to seventy people during the peak season. Rose’s service is now self-sustaining and farmers continue to reap the benefits as they are emboldened to try new crops and expand their production. The ultimate goal is for families to profit enough to subsidize their children’s education and, eventually, take on jobs in different sectors of the economy, achieving higher standards of living and insuring greater opportunities for generations to come.