Mixed fortunes as Kenyans rush for loans

Alice Wambui a vegetable vendor at the Nyeri Wakulima Market in Nyeri town requested for a Sh500 loan. [File Standard]

Lengthy delays, disquiet over the short repayment period, and fears of strict borrowing requirements were the major highlights as Kenyans began accessing the Hustler Fund.

One day after the fund was launched by President William Ruto, potential borrowers spoke of a long wait before accessing any money. Some said they had to wait for more than 12 hours before their requests were accepted, while others complained that the amounts being disbursed were too small to change their economic fortunes.

There was also a shock for those listed by credit reference bureaus (CRBs) after their applications were rejected.

Sam Oginga, a driver plying the Bamburi route in Mombasa County said that compared to other digital lenders that offer a 30-day repayment period, the Hustler Fund may be challenging to pay back because of the hard economic times.

“I also have reservations on why I would be required to reveal my M-Pesa PIN. It doesn’t add up since they already have my national identity number like other mobile money apps,” said Mr Oginga.

Charles Onyango, a photographer, said he had chosen not to borrow because he was overwhelmed with loans from other digital money-lending platforms.

In the Mount Kenya region, a number of small-scale traders in Murang’a and Nyeri counties claimed they were yet to receive the funds several hours after making their applications.

Alice Wangui, a fruits and vegetable vendor at the Nyeri open-air market, said she was hoping to get Sh500 to expand her business.

“I requested the Hustler Fund yesterday but I was told to wait for two hours,” she said. By 4p.m., she said, she had not received the money.

Timothy Kimathi, a hawker in Nyeri town, said he was denied a loan because he owed money to digital lenders. “It’s sad that I’m still on the CRB list. I will not be in a position to access the fund.”

In Kapsabet town, locals said they had made several unsuccessful attempts to register on their mobile phones.

“I have registered several times but there is no response. We wonder whether there is huge traffic request or disbursement has been suspended for a while,” said Timon Kemboi, a boda boda rider.

The lucky few who got loans complained that the amounts were too small for what they wanted to use the money for.

Clement Kipkemboi, a shopkeeper, said he had declined to take a Sh850 loan because it could not help him buy more stock for his shop.

But for boda boda operators in Kisumu, the amount they qualified for was enough to enable them fuel their motorcycles for a day’s work.

“I was among the first people to apply for the fund. Although I had to wait for almost an hour, the money was eventually deposited into my account and I bought fuel with it,” said Maurice Barasa.

In Kisii town, residents who spoke The Standard said they feared borrowing from the Hustlers Fund owing to concerns that the money would automatically payoff their outstanding Fuliza loans.

Experts, however, believe the fund will help some people start successful businesses.

John Kamau, a financial expert, said the kitty, if well managed, can support economic growth.

“To start with, majority got below Sh1,500 that is enough for a mama mboga business,” said Mr Kamau, adding that fund was structured to benefit citizens who cannot access bank loans.