Factors influencing implementation of agricultural projects funded by microfinance institutions in central division, Machakos county, Kenya

Over the last 20 years MFIs have provided financial services to people dealing with small and micro businesses or farmers who did not have access to loans from commercial banks. This research study focused on the role of Micro Finance Institutions in alleviating poverty and attaining food security among small scale farmers in Central Division, Machakos County. The research study emphasis as on Faulu Kenya and Kenya Women Finance Trust MFIs which have enabled small scale farmers get empowered through provision of unsecured loans. These MFIs have mutated from small scale NGOs to fully fledged banking institutions. Farmers have accessed agricultural credit from these MFIs and have financed investments successfully and have improved their food security status and increased household incomes in a significant way. The study hinged on Maslow’s theory of basic or physiological needs that emphasizes on attaining the minimum requirements that are essential for a decent standard living. These needs are critical and their presence leads to satisfaction, self confidence and valuable. The study used descriptive survey to collect primary data. The main tool for data collection was the questionnaire which was administered to the MFI funded agricultural project leaders together with the beneficiaries of these projects. The questionnaire focused on operations of MFIs in small holder farming, MFI project financing, accessibility of the loans and the extent to which the respondents have alleviated poverty and attained food security using the MFI loans. Qualitative data involved looking for themes and contents in the qualitative data generated from the sets of questionnaires used in the study. The study focused on the following factors; Government policies, Educational factors, Socio economic factors and Technological factors. These formed the basis of examining the impact of effective implementation of the MFI funded agricultural projects. The quantitative method involved deriving statistical descriptions and interpretation of data using descriptive statistics. The quantitative data and the findings were presented using description, frequency tables and subsequent discussions. Interms of data analysis the researcher used both qualitative and quantitative methods. The sample population was a group of 140 respondents chosen through stratified random and purposive sampling. The researcher got back 90 completed questionnaires which were analyzed using the SPSS (v17). Research findings were derived through regression and correlation analysis and from the study; technological factors were ranked the highest with a Pearson’s Correlation factor value of 0.793 making it an extremely important independent variable. Socio economic factors ranked next with a Correlation value of 0.765 making it the second important independent variable. The effect of Government policies recorded a correlation value of 0.712 making it a fairly important independent variable. Education factors had the least effect in relation to effective implementation of the MFI funded agricultural projects with a correlation value of 0.554. In conclusion, effective implementation of MFI funded agricultural projects in Central Division; Machakos County has been as a result of interplay between technology and Socio Economics with Government involvement and education aspects contributing minimally though important. The researcher recommends that more studies relating to MFI funding should be done in Machakos County. Other factors especially ICT that influence the implementation of MFI funded projects in the county should also be investigated with a view to achieving sustainable food production and increased household incomes