A matter of shillings and sense as low-interest loan platform launched

Thursday, December 1st, 2022 10:00 | By
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua. PHOTO/Courtesy

Kenyan hustlers will access Government funds starting today, as President William Ruto begins fulfilling some of his top campaign promises slightly under three months after being elected.

The roll-out of the Hustlers’ Fund opens the way for many Kenyans to borrow money from a Sh50 billion kitty set aside by the Kenya Kwanza administration this financial year.

A similar amount is to be added to the fund every financial year that Ruto’s regime will be in office.

Formally referred to as the Financial Inclusion Fund, the kitty has been characterised by uncertainties, especially on access and the requirements needed by beneficiaries. But Ruto made it clear yesterday that it would be accessible to anyone who is ready to repay, before graduating to higher figures. 

During the launch of the Fund at Green Park Bus Terminus in Nairobi, Ruto said the kitty would be for hustlers ready to do business.  “You will not need guarantors, the only guarantor is your discipline in repaying the money,” he said.

Ruto formally took office on September 13. Although it is close to 80 days since then, he is already under pressure from opposition leaders, led by Raila Odinga (his main opponent in the polls), to show what he has done for Kenyans.

Raila, the Azimio leader, had initially planned a political rally at Kamukunji Grounds in Nairobi on Wednesday to call on his supporters to oppose Ruto’s initial policies, but called it off on Tuesday.

Despite a cold reception by critics and opposition leaders — who questioned its impact considering the small amount accessible, Ruto said thousands of Kenyans were already lining up to borrow the cash.

For a start, borrowers will get personal loans between Sh500 and Sh50, 000, which will be repayable in 14 days. The money will be accessible on all local mobile line platforms, Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom, through the code *254#. 

“We went to many places and everywhere wananchi told us they were being inundated by Fuliza and shylocks. We agreed to form a special fund to enable ordinary Kenyans without title deeds and log books to get loans with low interest rates to do business. I am happy this dream has been fulfilled. Already, 160,000 have tried to access it today before it goes live,” he added. 

He revealed that over eight million Kenyans had been negatively listed by creditors for failing to settle their loans, saying the Fund would  be available to them nonetheless.

The Fund will be managed by new regulations added to the Public Finance Management Act 2012 that were recently passed by Parliament. It will be under the Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Co-operatives and SMEs, Simon Chelugui.

The three telecommunications firms were represented at the launch. Leading banks such as KCB, Co-operative, Equity, Family and others will be custodians of the money set for disbursement. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) urged beneficiaries to repay within the set period; while Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja pledged the support of the county government.

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