The broad objective of the project is to facilitate access to affordable and reliable financial services for and by rural people in Machakos, Kitui and Makueni counties through the promotion of community owned and managed financial initiatives.
It is expected that through capacity building of members and management of these self-help savings and credit associations, the rural communities will better be able to meet their collective and/or individual social and economic financial needs and eventually boost their livelihoods.
The introduction of the Solidarity Fund for Development (SOFDEV) concept as an alternative to the formal financial institutions in some of the regions in Eastern Kenya, was meant to provide a platform for communities not only for financial access but also build a sense of ownership of a rural financial institution that they can manage as per the community needs. The access to financial services is also meant to impact the communities’ social-economic lives and hence enhance their livelihoods. Inades Formation-Kenya has been able to establish 6 SOFDEV units in 6 different locations in Eastern Kenya that is Mwala, Mbiuni and Kathama, in Machakos County Kauma and Musengo, in Kitui County and Ngaamba in Makueni County since 2005 up until 2016.
Since its inception the Solidarity Fund for Development (SOFDEV) model has caused a visible impact among communities where the units are in operation. The improved livelihoods and institutional development through the on-going construction projects of operating offices and commercial buildings in some of the old units are a clear indication of the positive effect of the rural financial model. Being a community owned and managed initiative with the committee leaders coming from the same community on voluntary basis, relevant and constantly updated policies and management structures are paramount for the growth and progress of the units; adherence to these policies and structures will in time prepare them for staffing and independence.
The recently formed and upcoming SOFDEV units need to embrace their strength as a community owned and managed financial instruments right from their inception in order to not only increase membership which results to increased savings and credit access but also grow as an institution through economic investments.