Kilifi governor Gideon Mung'aro on Saturday gave out Sh113 million in loans to several local firms including those that supply the county government to boost their businesses.
The money is part of the governor's Sh1 billion revolving fund that provides interest-free loans to help small-scale traders who have no access to capital.
Over 50 groups benefitted from the loans the governor issued on Saturday under the initiative dubbed; "Wezesha Fund".
"The money is part of the Sh1 billion Mung'aro said he had pooled funds from local lenders to finance local firms that win county tenders," Mung'aro said.
He said many residents of Kilifi are finding it difficult to access capital to finance projects once they win tenders from the county government, and that is why he started the Wezesha Fund to help them.
"We currently have Sh1 billion in the bank. We are therefore asking more people to come out and take Wezesha funds for any business. Even barbershop business can borrow the money," he said.
An applicant must be vetted by county officials and community representatives to access the fund while those who have won county government tenders qualify for the fund automatically.
The governor said the move is aimed at helping various groups within the county to finance tenders awarded by the county government. The fund is supported by Kenya Commercial Bank and Rafiki MicroFinance.
"Mama mbogas are the biggest beneficiaries of the just concluded disbursement. However, I'm urging the youth to come forward and apply for the loans,” Mung'aro said.
The governor said he renamed the fund from Mbegu Fund to Wezesha Fund so that residents would not perceive it as a grant.
His predecessor, the current Senate Speaker Amason Kingi, started the Mbegu Fund in 2015 and by the end of his second term, it had disbursed Sh320 million.
On Saturday, November 4, 2023, Mung'aro however lamented that many people who took the loans defaulted. "Over Sh200 million loaned out by the last regime has not been repaid. People have to pay because this is not free money. This is a revolving fund that people borrow,” said Munga’ro.