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Review for The BOMA Project, Manchester Center, VT, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

About ten years ago, BOMA developed an experimental poverty graduation program for deeply impoverished women in Kenya. The founder, Kathleen Colson, guided women to develop their own small businesses, starting them off with small cash grants and two years of regular mentoring. Two pioneering features of this program were first, to encourage the women to form groups of three so that when one of the women couldn’t work - perhaps because of a sick child - the other business owners could keep the venture going. A second innovation was to collect sufficient data so that results could be measured with extreme accuracy over time.

The results of this experiment have been astounding. BOMA has helped women from Northern Kenya and beyond start over 10,000 businesses. BOMA’s impact has reached over 182,000 women and children as of 2019.

BOMA continues to experiment, serving as a laboratory and technical assistant for other government and non-governmental organizations. BOMA developed an effective, low cost, solution to ending extreme poverty in the dry lands of Africa. Now, they are bringing it to scale.

If you’re looking for a very high return on philanthropic investment, BOMA is a great, and rewarding, bet.

K. Roome, donor

Role:  Donor

Review for The BOMA Project, Manchester Center, VT, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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

Role:  Board Member