Celo Launches DeFi Employer-based lending Pilot | Nanyuki Kenya

The Celo Foundation, the organization behind the Celo blockchain, has launched a pilot project in Nanyuki, Kenya, focused on DeFi-enabled mobile lending. This tutorial provides an overview of the project and its objectives, highlighting the partnerships involved and the potential impact on financial inclusion for smallholder farmers. The pilot aims to leverage Celo’s blockchain technology and the concept of decentralized finance (DeFi) to offer accessible and affordable loan products to employees of Cinch Markets Limited, a land management enterprise.

Introduction to Celo and the Project

Celo is a layer one blockchain protocol with a mobile-first focus, particularly targeting emerging markets. The Celo community consists of various organizations united by a mission to bring prosperity to all, with a strong emphasis on financial inclusion. In partnership with Mula Market, Cinch, Mercy Corps, and Kotanipe, Celo is conducting a pilot project in Kenya to explore the potential of DeFi-enabled lending for smallholder farmers.

Partner Organizations

  • Cinch: Cinch is a land management enterprise working on an inclusive model of commercial farming. They aggregate land from smallholder farmers and invest in growing high-value crops, aiming to increase their incomes and create long-term prosperity.
  • Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian organization, and their AgriFin program focuses on supporting smallholder farmers by developing digitally enabled products and services tailored to their needs.
  • Kotanipe: Kotanipe provides web3 technology solutions, bridging blockchain addresses with traditional financial systems. They simplify the technology into a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) solution, enabling feature phone users to access financial services.

Empowering Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder farmers, who form the majority of the farming population, often face challenges in accessing finance, training, and market opportunities. This pilot project aims to address these issues by providing smallholder farmers with access to credit based on their incomes through mobile phones. By leveraging Celo’s DeFi technology, the project aims to offer loans at more affordable rates, removing middlemen from the process and promoting financial inclusion.

Pilot Implementation

The pilot project involves offering accessible loan products to the employees of Cinch Markets Limited. The technology provided by Celo and Kotanipe allows Cinch to efficiently offer loans to their employees at lower costs. The loans are disbursed directly to the employees’ mobile money accounts, without the need for smartphones. The project aims to simplify the loan process and make it accessible to all, including feature phone users.

User Experience and Feedback

Throughout the pilot project, the teams have been working together to troubleshoot and improve the user experience. Farmers participating in the project have shown enthusiasm and excitement, highlighting the convenience of accessing loans directly through their feature phones. The option of automatic loan repayment through garnishing their income was preferred by most participants, demonstrating the importance of convenience for this group.

Future Steps and Scalability

The successful implementation of the pilot project will provide valuable learnings and insights. The goal is to scale the project and establish a blueprint for collaboration between the partnering organizations. Celo believes that blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize financial inclusion, offering alternative mechanisms to traditional finance and empowering individuals with limited access to credit and financial services.


The Celo Foundation, along with its partners Cinch, Mercy Corps, and Kotanipe, has launched a DeFi employer-based lending pilot project in Nanyuki, Kenya. The project aims to provide smallholder farmers with accessible and affordable loans by leveraging Celo’s blockchain technology. By simplifying the loan process and offering innovative financial solutions, the pilot intends to promote financial inclusion, increase incomes, and create long-term prosperity for smallholder farmers. The success of the pilot will pave the way for further advancements in decentralized finance and contribute to the growth of the Celo ecosystem.

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