He Grew Up on a Farm. Now, He Helps Protect Them.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

By Norman Mayersohn

Few livelihoods offer as many paths to failure as agriculture. Throughout history, farmers have been at the mercy of nature — be it weather, pests or crop diseases — even as the survival of people and livestock depended on their success.

Growing up on a farm on the slopes of Mount Kenya, Thomas Njeru witnessed firsthand the devastating impact such setbacks had on the lives of small landholders, including his own family. His mother lectured him to work hard in school so he could one day leave the farm and land a good job in the city. Mr. Njeru followed that advice obediently — until he did not.

Today, he is a co-founder and the chief financial officer of Pula, a four-year-old microinsurance firm that serves 1.7 million smallholder farms of 0.6 acres or less in 10 African countries and India. Microinsurance — think of it as an offshoot of the microloan programs that kick-start businesses in impoverished areas — provides protection for low-income individuals who do not have access to conventional coverage.

Photo courtesy of Neil Palmer.

Source: New York Times (link opens in a new window)

microfinance, smallholder farmers