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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The BOMA Project: Helping women and children in the arid lands of eastern Africa overcome extreme poverty

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Economic Development, Microfinance, Rural Economic Development

Mission: The BOMA Project implements a unique poverty graduation program that helps ultra-poor women in Northern Kenya overcome extreme poverty. We help provide women with business, financial and life-skills training so they can earn a sustainable income, survive drought, pay for food and medical care, send their children to school, and accumulate savings for long-term family stability.

Results: Since 2009, BOMA has impacted more than 94,000 women and children, and launched 5,223 businesses and 837 savings groups. Our goal is to lift 100,000 women and children out of extreme poverty by early 2018 and 1 million women and children by 2022.

Target demographics: Women and families living in extreme poverty in Northern Kenya. When we begin working with them, 99 percent of BOMA entrepreneurs live on less than $2.50 per day (the poverty line), while 88 percent live on less than $1.90 per day (the extreme poverty line).

Direct beneficiaries per year: more than 94,000 women and children since 2009

Geographic areas served: Laisamis, Loiyangalani, Marsabit and Samburu Districts of Northern Kenya.

Programs: Our cornerstone program, the Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP), provides a seed capital grant, business skills and savings training, and two years of hands-on mentoring by local BOMA Village Mentors to business groups of three women. Once businesses are established and earning profits, we help them to assemble committed savings associations for business expansion and individual interest-bearing loans.

Community Stories

47 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of working with The BOMA Project throughout the Summer of 2017. As a St. Lawrence University Student, I traveled to Kenya previously and witness firsthand the work other nonprofit organizations are doing in East Africa. The BOMA Project stands out from these organizations because of their prioritization of a culturally relevant and locally-led poverty graduation model. Their gender-based approach to poverty graduation acknowledges the ability women have within these communities to reinvest in their families and catalyze change. In addition, their approach is rooted in knowledge of the area and the people with whom they work. Overall, The BOMA Project is a transparent organization that produces real, effective results, and I feel confident in BOMA's ability to continue positively impacting the lives of women and children in Northern Kenya.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with this organization over the Summer of 2017 in their U.S. based office in Manchester, Vermont and found that this nonprofit far exceeded my expectations. I came to the BOMA Project to see the inner workings of an international nonprofit and found dedicated and hardworking professionals, an acceptance and kindness to a student just trying and learn, and an honest openness to my opinion on social media projects and research for actual use in the field, as well as other projects. I know that I made a great decision in volunteering with BOMA for my summer and I would recommend the same position to any college age student looking to make a bit of difference in the world. Being on the U.S. side of things I was able to see the compassion and dedication from every staff member. Every move they make, they have their participants in mind. They are truly working toward building a better future for women in Kenya and spreading this wealth to as many places as possible. Women in extreme poverty in areas most affected by climate change are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. By giving them the tools they need to create a sustainable livelihood, BOMA is having lasting impact on these women, years after they have left the region. Girls are being sent to school, mothers are business owners, and no one goes to bed hungry - these are real and lasting results and these outcomes are motivation to every staff member in the U.S. office.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was so lucky to get the opportunity to volunteer for the BOMA Project in Kenya this past summer, and I cannot say enough wonderful things about the work this organization does. In traveling to the field and meeting participants of BOMA's poverty graduation program, it is so clear how instrumental the work that BOMA does is and how greatly appreciated BOMA and its employees are in the communities wherein they work. I was especially impressed by how well BOMA is able to respect and work within the pastoralist cultural tradition to bring social and economic change to empower women. BOMA employs mentors and field officers from within the communities in which the organization works and joins women into business and savings groups. Through this strategic model, the relationship that the organization builds with (and among) its beneficiaries is truly unique and sets BOMA apart from any other nonprofit in the economic development and women's empowerment space.

Donor

Rating: 5

Out of Segal Family Foundation's portfolio of over 200 grantee partners, The BOMA Project is unique for the population they target; infrastructure and employment opportunities are lacking in the African drylands. BOMA has great leadership, a cost-effective model, and has demonstrated impressive scale in a short period of time. We appreciate their strong partnerships and collaborations with stakeholders, local leaders, and government. BOMA also benefits from strong M&E systems and depth of data, which is fantastic.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

BOMA is one of Smarter Good’s long term clients and we've had the privilege to witness how they have been able to help increasing numbers of women and children in the ASALs of Africa. Because of their emphasis on rigorously tracking impact, making data driven decisions, creating long-term change, and designing a program uniquely tailored to the context of women of the African drylands, I consider BOMA one of the most promising leaders in the poverty graduation space and a role model for other organizations in the sector. I recently had the chance to work with BOMA’s board members and senior management team to develop their next strategic plan. I was amazed and inspired by the commitment that each person brought to the table. BOMA has a highly experienced, talented and dedicated board and staff and that gives me the confidence that BOMA will achieve its ambitious goal of changing the lives of 1 million women and children by end of 2022. I would really recommend BOMA as a vision-first organization that will continue to grow and succeed in the coming years.

Donor

Rating: 5

The poverty graduation success rate of this organization is unmatched in my experience. This is particularly noteworthy given that they purposely target the most difficult and dire environments and situations. Further, staffing locally and sourcing mentors from past graduates provides credibility and builds self-reliance versus dependence. Finally, it's use of technology as a staff multiplier and to fuel data driven analysis and decision-making really sets this relatively small non-profit apart from the pack. This is a model that has legs...and it has heart. I am proud to be a donor/supporter of this exceptional work.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I serve on Boma’s board because I know that Boma’s innovative approach to alleviating extreme poverty, building economic resilience and empowering women works. I first traveled to Kenya as a young teenager in 1972 and vowed to return. When I joined Boma’s board in 2007, I had not been able to return to Kenya, but through Boma, I knew I was helping to transform the lives of women and their families in the remote arid lands of Africa. At last, in 2015, 43 years later, I traveled to northern Kenya and was able to witness the power of Boma’s work firsthand. Through Boma’s proven, data-driven poverty graduation model, these previously marginalized women are forming successful businesses, building economic safety nets and better providing for their families. Boma’s remarkable work truly does provide the path toward Prosperity with Dignity.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the Board of BOMA a little over two years ago, soon after meeting founder Kathleen Colson. BOMA is a remarkable organization working at the cutting edge of eliminating extreme poverty in the drylands of Africa.

This is not one time humanitarian aid. BOMA begins by identifying the very poorest women in a village based on interviews with village residents. About 90% of these women have no savings and about 2/3 have sent their children to bed hungry in the last week. BOMA gives these women small cash grants to start small businesses and then follows up with two years of hands-on mentoring.

After 2 years, 93% of these women have graduated out of extreme poverty based on a rigorous set of criteria, including the fact that 93% of these graduates report that no child in their household has gone to bed hungry in the past month.

As further evidence of the efficacy of this approach, BOMA was one of four nonprofits worldwide to pass the rigorous “impact audit” conducted in 2015 by ImpactMatters, an organization led by Yale Economist Dean Karlan.

These remarkable results deserve support from anyone who believes in the ability of women to change their lives for the better when given even the smallest of opportunities.

Katherine Roome, BOMA Board Member

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been to Kenya twice to see BOMA at work and have supported their work for several years as has our family Foundation. BOMA gets to the heart of what it means to lift people out of poverty---they work with women who are marginalized by giving them training in starting their own businesses, give them initial funding and then stay involved with them to assure the businesses are successful. Then they help them save from their profits so they have a measure of financial security.
They don't just give a bit and then leave---they stay involved and the women's businesses flourish.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I've been a freelance grant and communications writer for BOMA since 2010. It has been remarkable to watch BOMA's poverty graduation program evolve. At every level, BOMA's staff and leadership are committed to delivering a high-quality program that transforms the life of every participant -- lifting them and their families out of extreme poverty and giving them the tools they need to build a brighter future. In one of the most remote, rural regions on the planet, BOMA is notable for its use of data and technology to analyze outcomes, improve the program and drive innovation. Mentors visit each business and savings group monthly -- often walking many kilometers or riding motorbikes across the scrubland to reach women who are operating successful BOMA-funded kiosks in far-flung settlements. Using tablets with a BOMA -developed application called Performance Insights, they gather extensive data on how each participant, business and savings group is faring --then upload this information in real-time to our cloud-based Salesforce database, where it's read and analyzed by our monitoring and evaluation team. This allows a rapid and targeted response for groups that need support -- and provides the data we need to continually refine the program. While this all sounds wonky, it's this devotion to the nuts-and-bolts that makes BOMA remarkable ... and the stories and gratitude that we constantly hear in the field, from women whose lives have been forever changed by BOMA, are the proof.

1 Nancy.Stroupe.Kannappan

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I had the good fortune of working for BOMA in their Kenya location and am now on their Board. I can tell you firsthand, they value and promote everything I would want to see in a non for profit organization: participant empowerment, data driven results, and validated/sustainable impact. I'm extremely proud to be a part of BOMA.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

My wife and I just returned from two weeks in the field with Kathleen and Kura to visit BOMA's important work in the drylands of Northern Kenya - one of the poorest regions of the world, and one of the most vulnerable to climate change. BOMA provides a combination of small monetary grants and basic business training and mentorship to help women establish new sources of income. As these new businesses take hold - small shops, butcheries, fish and livestock traders - BOMA also helps support the establishment of savings associations among participants to create a hedge against the perils of drought.

The impact we witnessed was astounding. We heard story after story of economic empowerment, of self-reliance, of successful savings strategies. The savings groups established by BOMA's women have helped to strengthen communities and save lives by providing small loans to pay for emergency transport to hospital, for school fees, or for helping the neediest. We were overwhelmed by the gratitude expressed by the women we met for the tools, the support, and the awareness that BOMA has provided them. These women deserve all the credit for the success of the program. Thank you BOMA for giving them that opportunity!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been discouraged by our past history of "aiding those poor people" and then I had the opportunity to travel with a group of women on a trip to Kenya that was led by Kathleen Colson, founder of BOMA. This was such a different approach - one that took time to establish because it rested on the solid foundation of building relationships and honoring and respecting the skills and desires of those who live in northern Kenya by incorporating them in the process. It also succeeded because BOMA provides support through training, follow up and mentors. The mentors are citizens in their villages who are chosen for their skills and leadership qualities.
I witnessed such compassion and passion in the BOMA leadership and such hope from the women who are now able to get better food, provide medicine and education and even participate in a savings program. Now I am more encouraged that this model exists and succeeds.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

I have seen BOMA in action. Hearing women in this program in one of the poorest, most resource starved regions of Africa talk about how their participation in BOMA has made the difference between needing regular food aid, and being able to earn enough money to feed their families and pay school fees for their children was an inspiring and heart-warming experience. BOMA is a model for ngo's in the developing world. It works directly with women who most need help by giving them know-how and a start in their small businesses.

2 Jerry37

Donor

Rating: 5

My wife and I visited Kenya several years ago. We became acquainted with Kathleen Colson and the work that BOMA was doing in Kenya. We saw first-hand the need for assistance by many people living in small villages and in rural communities. As BOMA developed its program of helping women through loans and training in developing their on businesses so that they might feed their families we were hopeful. We decided to become a regular donor. With each passing year we are impressed by the stories--but particularly by the statistics that show that the program is working and that nearly 100% of the women assisted through BOMA are still reaping the success of their hard work and of BOMA's training and support year after year. Thank you, BOMA, for the impact that you are having upon thousands of people--particularly, kids--in Kenya.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I think the Boma Fund is the most impressive non-profit out there. It is the essence of what an aid organization should be: teaching woman how to fish instead of giving them a fish (metaphorically speaking). The results are not only compelling they are exciting! My only wish is that I had more money to give to this organization.

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love this organization! Keep up the good work.



No more needs to be said.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BOMA has had such an impact on so many women, not only in Africa, but the donating countries. It is a heartwarming story of the positive effect of caring and a bit of cash.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am proud to donate to BOMA annualy to help support all of their wonderful initiatives!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BOMA is a model for all non-profits working in Africa focused on economic development. The organization's deep and nuanced understanding of local dynamics on the ground, its commitment to its beneficiaries, and its insistence on conducting all of its operations with the highest standards of transparency and integrity combine to make BOMA a truly first-rate organization. The demonstrated positive impact that BOMA has in the areas that it works in is a reflection of all of the years of hard work that the organization's staff in Kenya and the US have put in to bring the organization to where it is today.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with The BOMA Project during Summer 2014 after studying in Kenya during the Fall of 2013. I've learned so much about international development, economics, people, nonprofits, and so much more. What has struck me the most has been the careful attention to detail, data, and studies. BOMA does not dive into development with "expert" bias, but does hold itself accountable to the standards and monitoring of an "expert." The amount of passion and willingness to grow at BOMA is infectious and encourages me to delve deeper into development, but of course with the meticulous, conscious eye of the BOMA family.