Ingrid Munro

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009
Jamii Bora


This profile was prepared when Ingrid Munro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Ingrid Munro, the founder of Jamii Bora, has not only created the largest microfinance institution in East Africa, but, with a relentless focus on channeling empathy, she has harnessed the power of hundreds of thousands of economically empowered borrowers to transform their own lives and communities. By constantly innovating and engaging every member of the community, Jamii Bora has grown from a group of beggars saving some 50 cents per week for food to an organization more than 200,000 members strong, supporting thousands of businesses, and with nearly 100 centers throughout Kenya, all staffed by Jamii Bora beneficiaries.

The people who have benefited most from Jamii Bora’s support are not necessarily the earliest and most eager adopters. And very few fit the profile of the typical micro-borrower. Jamii Bora targets the poorest in urban areas – beggars, prostitutes, and even criminals. While other microfinance institutions and international aid donors say that the poorest of the poor are not reachable and can only be helped with hand-outs and other social safety nets, Ingrid proved otherwise. And with these extremely disadvantaged groups, Ingrid has built an unlikely but tightly connected community. Ingrid reaches out to and absorbs even the most improbable individuals into her empathetic and inclusive community.

Just as all people are included in Jamii Bora, so too are all challenges tackled. Thousands of people have made the shift from begging, stealing, or prostitution to gainful employment, and Ingrid and Jamii Bora have been able to harness the entrepreneurial energy and newfound economic security to start a movement for poor urban dwellers unlike any ever seen before. Across Kenya, hundreds of thousands of Jamii Bora members are starting businesses, moving out of the slums and into new homes, purchasing medical insurance for the first time, and shattering longstanding stereotypes. The community is proving in innumerable ways that it can solve and scale any challenge together and in a systematic and sustainable way.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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