The minimalist group-based approach is derived largely from the
model created by the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. In Kenya the minimalist
approach has come to mean running of a credit programme as a business on its
own, not integrated with other types of assistance to microenterprises. The
approach aims to achieve profitability and to sustain running costs through
positive interest rates and a large client base. Sustainability is
achieved when the earnings from credit activities enables the programmes to meet
running costs of the programme and its expansion in the short to intermediate
The impetus for the focus on sustainability has come from NGOs
themselves, organizations that are increasingly professional and Kenyan-run and
aware of the limitations of reliance on donor funding.
The emergence of the minimalist approach comes after a decade or
more of NGO involvement with credit programmes in Kenya responding to the common
assumption that access to credit is one of the primary constraints to the
development of microenterprises in the informal sector.
In Kenya today there are 114 credit projects and programmes for
micro and small scale enterprises, 96 of these are run by NGOs. Attempts by NGOs
in the 70's and 80's in delivery of credit to low income entrepreneurs were
notably unsuccessful in delivering credit in any volume or in achieving good
repayments - certainly unsuccessful by comparison to the successful rural
financial institutions in Asia and Latin America.
In 1990, K-REP led five NGOs in adapting the commercially
oriented, group based saving and credit approach. Some twelve NGOs have since
adopted the group based methodology though only six are fully 'minimalist'
programmes, that is, are commercially oriented, pursuing the objective of
Of the 6 programmes, three (K-REP, PRIDE and KWFT) were
specifically created as credit programmes for microenterprise while the other
three (NCCK, Tototo and Chogoria) emerge from earlier welfare oriented projects
building on existing experience of people focussed, participatory development of
K-REP operates both as an umbrella organization and a funding
intermediary, backed by USAID, Overseas Development Administration and Ford
Foundation and as a implementing agency through its own Juhudi Credit Programme.
Its objective is to strengthen the management of credit organizations and
supporting other NGOs in this field to raise their outreach, productivity and
performance. Established in 1984, K-REP has been involved in designing,
implementing and assisting credit programmes for microenterprise development.
K-REP's objective is also to reduce dependency on foreign donors and to raise
the sustainability of NGOs in this