Mbaitu Foundation is a 501c3 Non-Profit organization that was incorporated in the state of Texas on June 25, 2020, with a focus on mobilizing resources and ensuring the strategic allocation of these resources at the grassroots level, in order to bridge the poverty gap amongst the Kamba community in Ukambani.
Mbaitu Foundation is the only organization of its kind that is exclusively focused on the South East Region of Kenya encompassing the three counties of Machakos, Kitui, and Makueni (Ukambani). This is a region that has lagged behind the rest of the Kenyan Republic with respect to most social economic indicators including education, water security, and food security.
In response to the grim reality of poverty and underdevelopment in Ukambani, Kenyans in the diaspora formed Mbaitu Foundation as a philanthropic entity to primarily provide resources to boost the poverty alleviation efforts of self-help groups in Ukambani.
Driven by the philanthropy of ‘by the Kamba Nation, for the Kamba Nation,’ we are uniquely positioned to help direct much needed resources towards homegrown self-help groups in the Kamba Nation.
Towards that end, Mbaitu Foundation focuses on engaging with different stakeholders and building strategic partnerships that will enhance our work. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring improved service delivery, transparency, accountability, and realizing measurable outcomes related to hunger and poverty alleviation.
Mbaitu Foundation was started because of the following reasons:
The high rates of poverty in Ukambani
The main aim of the Foundation is to support and celebrate homegrown poverty alleviation efforts by residents to re-write the narrative of Ukambani. For years, the counties of Kitui, Makueni and Machakos (Ukambani) have been characterized by biting poverty rates, gender inequality, inadequate infrastructure, high food insecurity, an inadequate supply of clean drinking water, and under developed social services.
According to the Kenya Integrated Budget Survey report 2015/6, the poverty head count rate for Machakos stood at 42.6%, for Kitui at 39.4%, and for Makueni at 34.8% compared to the national average of 36.1%. Furthermore, at least 80% of the households across Ukambani live in rural remote areas where the absolute poverty rate is way above the national average. As a result of poverty, a majority of residents of Ukambani, particularly women in the rural remote areas, are characterized by high levels of illiteracy, income poverty, gender inequality, low accumulation of productive assets including land, and reduced decision-making powers. Mbaitu Foundation therefore seeks to make a tangible difference by lowering poverty rates in Ukambani.
To help actualize the benefits of devolution
For the past seven years Kenya has been implementing devolution as enshrined in the 2010 Constitution. The aim of the devolution was to create a new system of leadership by creating 47 counties that would bring public services closer to the citizens. Although there have been some success stories where counties like Machakos and Makueni have been lauded for successes in service delivery mainly in the health sectors, there is still more that needs to be done for the citizens to fully benefit. Worryingly, the poverty gap has gradually been growing, with a significant percentage of citizens sinking below the poverty line. This can be reversed through the proper implementation of devolution.
To help channel remittances and investments into Ukambani in an organized manner
The founders of Mbaitu Foundation reside in the United States of America, with firm roots in Ukambani. We are fully aware of the potential and opportunities available for providing the much-needed support and resources to Ukambani (including financial, technical, material and manpower resources) that can be mobilized and tapped into by self-help groups) due to Kenyan diaspora remittances.
In 2019, diaspora remittances to Kenya were US$2.55 billion (Kshs. 255 billion), making it the leading source of forex ahead of tourism, agricultural exports like coffee, tea and horticulture. These remittances are however done in a haphazard manner. An umbrella organization through which funds can be channeled to projects in Ukambani in an organized, united, focused, and transparent manner has long been necessary, hence the creation of Mbaitu Foundation.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
Mbaitu Foundation is alive to the fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will have an adverse and lasting impact on the people of Ukambani. At the macro level, Kenya’s economic growth is expected to contract from 6.2% to 3.4% for the Financial Year 2020. At the micro level, the projected impact includes: reduced income; reduced household consumption expenditure; disrupted livelihood; and mental and psychological health challenges. Currently, the Government of Kenya is struggling with a contracting economy, bloated foreign debt, and a shrinking national budget to address its most pressing and competing obligations. This means that citizens in the rural remote areas will suffer the full brunt of post-Covid effect with very limited safety net support. Mbaitu Foundation is therefore a necessary and timely entity to help alleviate the challenges arising from the pandemic.