Building livelihoods

Building livelihoods: Participant journeys and impacts

December 14th, 2020


The building livelihoods programme is a modified financial graduation project that emphasises market-based programme components to increase cost-effectiveness and potential for scale. The aim of the programme is to help those living in extreme poverty build sustainable livelihoods through business to enable them to live above the ‘survival threshold’, whereby households can meet basic food needs without external assistance (Fitzgibbon & Cabot Venton, 2014).

The programme builds on the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) bi-monthly cash transfer provided through the Government of Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), which aims to improve consumption stability and predictability.

HSNP recipients are put into savings groups of up to 30 people in which they contribute every month to group savings, as well as learn how to take and repay loans from the group. The accumulated group savings are shared out amongst all contributing members at the end of a cycle (approximately a year) and a new cycle starts. The savings groups are facilitated by community-based facilitators (CBFs), who are more educated members of the community and who train participants on life skills (e.g. self-esteem, assertiveness, decision making) and basic financial and business skills (e.g. profit calculation, financial goal setting, savings, budgeting). The programme also includes facilitation of loans from Equity Bank and linkages to various market actors to increase access to information, enable group buying, and augment business opportunities.

Purpose of this report

The purpose of this report is to provide detail on participant journeys throughout the programme in order to demonstrate the mechanisms of change, including the impact of various programme components.


The data in this report is based primarily on qualitative interviews with programme participants, which took place between May 2016 and November 2019. Following an initial background visit in May 2016, five additional field visits were conducted, which were aligned with the timing of various programme components. The field visits were conducted in November 2016 after the savings groups had been formed and improved, in May 2017 following life skills training, in March 2018 following financial and business training, in February 2019 following the introduction of Equity Bank loans, and in November 2019 following some implementation of the market linkages.

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