THE BOMA MODEL
BOMA’s poverty graduation model — the Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP) — is one of the most successful, sustainable, and cost-effective poverty graduation approaches in the world. It was designed for and has been tested and refined in the uniquely challenging context of the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of northern Kenya. REAP entails 16 to 24 months of sequenced interventions with a clear exit strategy and rigorous criteria for success. Communities nominate their poorest, most vulnerable members, who then form small business groups, learn how to draft a business plan, and receive a cash grant to immediately start a small business. New entrepreneurs receive financial and life skills training and are mentored for two years to manage and grow their business. They also contribute to a savings pool, which they can access as needed to cope with shocks or to invest in expanding their business.
Community led development is, and always will be, part of BOMA’s core values. We identify new BOMA participants through a three-pronged approach entailing community consultation, ranking through BOMA’s unique targeting tool, and baseline surveys conducted by trained, independent enumerators.
Each business receives a seed capital grant of $200 to launch the enterprise. A second, performance-based conditional cash transfer of $100 is distributed at six months, following a satisfactory progress report by the Mentor. As of 2021, all cash transfers are now done via mobile money.
Mentors provide training and coaching. Financial training sessions cover supply and demand, profit and pricing, record keeping, marketing, savings, borrowing lending, planning for long-term expenses, and investing. Life-skills sessions include household decision-making, educating children, family planning, & natural resource management.
A BOMA Mentor assembles business groups of three qualified women and helps them launch their businesses, then visits each business monthly to provide ongoing support. Mentors are a key aspect of BOMA’s program delivery and contribute powerfully to the success of BOMA participants.
At six months, Mentors assemble 3-5 business groups into savings associations, whose members meet monthly to deposit or withdraw savings. Mentors work with each group and deliver micro-trainings for the remaining 18 months. These savings can prove critical in helping participants weather shocks like drought or disease.
All BOMA savings groups are registered with County Social Services, facilitating their ability to access formal financial institutions and services. Depending on access, BOMA also helps participants open personal bank accounts. All participants are provided with a mobile phone and connected to M-PESA, a mobile money-transfer service.
Participants have “graduated” from poverty when they meet their benchmarks for food security, sustainable livelihoods, shock preparedness, and human and social capital. BOMA’s model is proven to have a lasting impact on participants — upon graduating from BOMA’s programs, entrepreneurs experience:
Increase in Savings