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Investing toward the future of Kenya

Together, they help endorse projects that may not catch the attention of governments and receive investments. They help change the lives of people around the world, and in this particular case, they help the local farmers in Kisumu, Kenya.

Juniors Darren Han, Valerian Jiang and Leo Lee traveled to Kenya during spring break, from Friday, March 30 to Thursday, April 5, representing their non-profit organization, Social Finance Collective, in which the juniors invested in the local innovator Alex Odundo’s first agricultural machine. The inventors’ main goal was to end the poverty situation in Kenya. The juniors discovered Odundo through the YouTube channel Great Big Story, which showcased Odundo’s machines.

Social Finance Collective recognizes innovations that lack funding but are useful to other people living in underdeveloped areas around the world. Additionally, the organization invested in an agricultural machine that speeds the process of removing fibers from sisal plants, which are used to weave blankets and floor mats.

“We were really interested in [Odundo’s] idea of trying to fix a local issue by focusing on a plant that people see as an object that’s not really useful. We just thought it was interesting how he was able to come up with ideas and produce his own machines to make it a cash crop,” Han said.

Odundo wanted to aid his local village. The sisal plant is the only plant able to withstand the drought issue in Kenya, but is very labor intensive.

“I was able to see how the situation was in Kenya and see how he really wanted to help his community of farmers. He’s a really bright person and was very determined in his video. He was pretty motivated to fix this issue that’s been attacking Kenya for so many years,” Han said.

They loaned Odundo $16,000, which allowed him to build more machines and expand his public relations. Previously, Odundo had built the machines from scrap metal and motorcycle chains, but with the financial aid, Odundo was eventually able to introduce the machine to other local villages around Kenya struggling with similar situations.

“I think we’re definitely making a big impact. The more we give to these loaners, the more their ideas impact more people. When they pay back a loan the first time, we offer them a bigger loan because we know that it’s kind of an assurance for us because we know that they are able to pay us back,” Jiang said.

Social Finance Collective plans to impact the lives of others by helping innovators through financial aid as well as providing funds to help third-world countries around the world thrive. Although their next project is unknown, the juniors plan on helping more underdeveloped countries with their financial aid.

“I feel like we’re motivated by just trying to help whoever we can,” Lee said. “This time, meeting Alex Odundo gave us an opportunity to explore not just domestically, but also nationally. Knowing that we were able to help other people outside of this country and in this world really motivated us to continue this organization and stay on this track.”

By Emma Hsieh, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Leo Lee


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