Saccos house the diaspora
SEE ALSO :Actis to build Sh11 billion warehousesOverall, Kenyans living abroad sent a total of Sh138.6 billion back home in the first six months of this year, up from Sh89.2 billion in the same period last year. About 60 per cent of this money, according to real estate developer Heri Homes, is being invested in real estate, specifically retirement homes, holiday homes or buying land. Fredrick Njuki, the CEO of Kenya USA Diaspora Sacco, says unlike before when Kenyans living abroad sent money directly to their relatives back home, today they channel money through Saccos and banks. Njuki says there have been disheartening stories in the past of Kenyans living abroad who sent money to relatives for specific projects, only to learn later that the project was not undertaken and the money “can’t be traced”. “Relatives have proved that they cannot be trusted with money sent to them from the diaspora to either buy land or build houses. They will always give you a lower value of what you had agreed on,” Njuki says.
SEE ALSO :KPA hikes charges at Nairobi depotThey are part of the more than 1,600 Sacco members. Heri Homes, another real estate firm, has also been targeting Kenyans in the diaspora. Through community leaders and the embassies, they have managed to tap into the billions of diaspora remittances. Joram Mwangi, a director with Heri Homes, says they are selling 12 of their projects to diaspora investors. In Kenya, there are more than 10 Saccos that are operating and registered to target Kenyans in the diaspora. Diaspora alliance More than 250,000 Kenyans living abroad are members of the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, chaired by Shem Ochuodho. Since 2017, the government has made it easier for those living in the diaspora to send money back home and invest. This has boosted remittance as new partnerships between commercial banks and international money remittance providers have helped bring down the cost of money transfers. This has in turn led to increased investment into property and other forms of investment since Kenyans living abroad are now sure the money they send will be put to good use. Out of the more than Sh138 billion sent back home in the first six months of 2018, between 60 and 70 per cent went into real estate, according to Heri Homes. “The government is helping us tap into the diaspora money by making it friendlier to remit money from abroad,” says Njuki. Other players have special loans targeted at those living abroad. For instance, the Housing Finance Company, has a ‘Loan for the Diaspora’ lending category’, which is purely for the people in the diaspora who want to buy or build homes, financing them up to 105 per cent. [email protected]