Digital lending is on the rise in Kenya. It started about five years ago and has grown in leaps and bounds to see over forty companies join in to share the market stake. Tala and Branch are some of the household names in this sector but many more are steadily coming up.

"Since we launched 5 years ago, digital lending has now grown in tremendous speed," says Ivan Mboa, East Africa Growth,Tala. "When we fist came in it essentially was Mshwari that had come in first, simply followed by TALA, but now we are looking at 45, around, over 47 digital lenders."

More digital lending apps have seen the number skyrocket as the demand for credit by Kenyans continue to rise...and rise. It is estimated that about seven million Kenyans are currently accessing mobile loans out of the 46 million Kenyans who own mobile phones.

More applications

Zenka loan app is one such company. Founded just about six months ago, but has made inroads into the fin-tech market as explained by Robert Masinde, Zenka chief executive officer.

“What we have done is try to provide access to them (customers) in a way easy and user friendly without the intimidation that they have to go through when they have to get a bank loan,” says Masinde.

Zenka app also offers its first time borrowers interest-free loans. This means that those who borrow for the first time will pay back the exact amount borrowed.

Also Read: What kind of loans you can get through digital apps

“We are bringing people who otherwise would have been stuck in the periphery of financial inclusion and migrating them to a position where they can access fiancé in the formal sector by starting them at a level they can manage,” adds Masinde.

Regulation vs innovation

But there is a challenge posed by the rapid growth of the sector, catapulted by high demand and appetite for quick cash.  Regulation is one such issue that stakeholders are grappling with, alongside transparency among practitioners in the sector. So, what will be the impact of regulating the sector?

"I must mention here that regulation is necessary to protect Wanjiku, to ensure consumer protection issues are addressed to ensure that the consumer is not exploited by service provider," says Habil Olaka, Kenya bankers association chairman.

But is the sector totally unregulated? Phyllis Kamau, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya who specializes in fin-tech and policy opines that there is self regulation in the sector.

"There is a lot of regulations that regulate mobile payment systems where this payment is happening," she says.

Adding that, "There are regulations around anti-money laundering that will by extension apply to those who are not licensed by any institution."

Digital lending has indeed taken the the country by storm. It is the new thing, here to stay as stakeholders admit that despite the challenges,  it has bridged a wider gap that existed before.

“What digital lending has done is that it has improved financial inclusion in the latest fin-access survey by FSD Kenya, which reported an increase in financial inclusion,” says Phylis Kamau.

“It means that the people who have not been able to access banking services have now been brought into the formal borrowing industry,” she adds.

Divided opinions

Beneficiaries also share their varied opinions about the new wave. Francis Kimani, a vegetable vendor in Nairobi's Ngara estate narrates the importance of mobile loans an how they have helped him boost his business.

"Long time ago, accessing loans from banks was a difficult task," says the 42-year-old. "But now small scale traders like us can access loans all thanks to mobile loans, the process is quite simple."

While most of them admit that mobile loans have helped them boost businesses, others are concerned about being listed a the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).

"The way these lenders share details of those who owe them with the CRB is not good and they can share your details without your approval," says Edwin Asila, a borrower in Nairobi.

Click here to know more about ZENKA LOAN APP 

You can also watch The Chamwada Report show on this topic in the video embedded.

Ever borrowed a loan from digital lenders? How was your experience and what did you take home from that experience?  Well, this week, The Chamwada Report focuses on digital loans,pros and cons and to demystify the entire sector.

Digital lending is on the rise in Kenya. Started about five years ago and has grown in leaps and bounds to see over forty companies join in to share the market stake. Tala and Branch are some of the household names in this sector but many more are steadily coming up.

Zenka loan app is one such company. Founded just about six months ago, but has made inroads into the fin-tech market as explained by Robert Masinde, Zenka chief executive officer.

"What we have done is try to provide access to them (customers) in a way easy and user friendly without the intimidation that they have to go through when they have to get a bank loan," says Masinde.

Zenka app also offers its first time borrowers interest-free loans. This means that those who borrow for the first time will pay back the exact amount borrowed.

Also Read: What kind of loans you can get through digital apps

"We are bringing people who otherwise would have been stuck in the periphery of financial inclusion and migrating them to a position where they can access fiancé in the formal sector by starting them at a level they can manage," adds Masinde.

More than forty-five digital lenders have come on board to share the market stake that has taken the country by storm. It is the new thing, here to stay as stakeholders admit it has bridged a wider gap that existed before. So, why the instant rise in demand?

"What digital lending has done is that it has improved financial inclusion in the latest fin-access survey by FSD Kenya, which reported an increase in financial inclusion," says Phylis Kamau, Corporate finance advocate.

"It means that the people who have not been able to access banking services have now been brought into the formal borrowing industry," she adds.

Click here to know more about ZENKA LOAN APP

On the show, Alex Chamwada talks to other stakeholders like the Central Bank of Kenya, the Kenya Bankers Association, Credit Reference Bureau (CRB) and beneficiaries.

Catch the informative show this Thursday at 8.30pm on KTN News channel- a Chams Media production.

An in-depth article will follow...

KISUMU COUNTY- Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world, after Lake Superior of North America. It also stars as Africa’s largest lake and the largest tropical lake in the world. The lake has a surface area of 68,800 square kilometers, which matches the size of Republic of Ireland. Lake Victoria is located in East Africa whereby It serves Kenya- 6%, Uganda-45% and Tanzania 49%.

The lake, a major resource to the East Africa has a lot of benefits to the region, currently suppressed by the jeopardy, water hyacinth. “Under the blue economy, maritime transport would be the low hanging fruit that we have,” Dr. Ali-Said Matano, Exec Sec EALBC

Economic activities around the area feed the hyacinth. Industrial effluent, farming activities and soil erosion, contribute to the detrimental development of the harmful weed. This urgently calls for control of the feeding factors.

"Motorboat engines screech, worse still going off if the boat is not strong," lamented  Philemon Haruni, assistant captain.

Mbita area in Homa Bay county, however, prides itself of clean water with no hyacinth. Residents of Siaya and Homa Bay Counties and Takawiri, Rusinga Mfangano islands Luanda and Kotieno islands are happy beneficiaries of steady water transport. Two water buses cruise through the area, serving  fast yet safe and convenient  transport through the lake. People of this region use motorboats as an alternative means of transport.

Ironically, to the hapless people of Kisumu the experience in Mbita is just but a dream due to the water hyacinth menace that hinders transport. Water hyacinth is occasionally swept by currents, depending on their direction.

Alarming statistics according to The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, indicate that the area covered by the weed increased from 6,142 hectares on February 11 to 7,583 hectares on February 15th this year.

Restoration of transport on Lake Victoria is underway as a flagship project spearheaded by the Lake Region Economic Bloc t revive the vast, yet dwindling resource.

“We have a directive from the governor, right honorable Raila Odinga and the President that all agencies including the regional bloc and counties must now think together. Our only term of reference is to rid the lake of the hyacinth and to dredge, that is all the principals want to hear,” Dr. Mathew Owili, Deputy Governor of Kisumu affirmed.

Bigger reliable machines are expected in at most 3 months and with a time frame of 15 months to complete the entire process of harvesting the water hyacinth, and thereafter dredging process to allow time for the construction of the new port awaiting the arrival of SGR.

The 14-Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Homabay, Bomet, Kericho, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kisii, Nyamira, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga -counties within the lake region economic bloc, parastatals directly linked to Marine transport are key stakeholders of the revamp process. Governments of the EAC members too are expected to take part.

Professional skills are a yardstick for the success of the project. “We need more marine vessels, we need more people to train in the marine industry so that we work in a professional way,”AnkolMwakazi, Captain, Water Bus.

Lake Victoria holds a fortune that is yet to be utilized and this will only happen upon its reclamation.

“The Kenya Pipeline has built a huge tank in Kisumu, the tank is ready to pump oil into big ships that can carry even 4 million liters of oil to Uganda and Tanzania Uganda consumes 4 million liters of oil in one day under the old way of transportation.

The big ships will be able to easily transport oil from Kisumu pipeline to Uganda and it will find its way to Rwanda, Congo and Southern Sudan and Mwanza and Musoma. That is a major milestone for the port of Kisumu… Abala Wanga, CEO, Lake Region Economic Bloc

Safety in transport is key and this could not have been overlooked. The inland port will bank on railway transport for the delivery of goods from Mombasa to the lake front and distribute to the respective counties through the lake. This is also expected to ease traffic and save time. Water transport and railway transport in sync is expected to bring a significant boost to economic growth in the lake region.

The reclamation plan comes with safety concern of those marine operators. “We have gazetted a number ‘110’ where a fisherman will be able to sound an alarm and we will be able to respond immediately,” ascertained Dr. Ali-Said Matano, Exec Sec. EALBC


Ronah Saada contributed to this article.

LUTON, ENGLAND- The Daring Abroad UK edition continued last week as we featured another Kenyan entrepreneur who has gone an extra mile to establish a shipping business in Luton Town, England.

Morris Njuguna went to the United Kingdom in 2003, a year after he graduated from the University of Nairobi with a degree in Economics and Social Studies. Ideally, he flew to the UK to further his studies, and that ambition gave birth to Kenya Exports Limited.

Also on Daring Abroad:

Like any other determined entrepreneur, Morris juggled studies, hustle and distractions with an aim of making ends meet, quite literally. And despite being holder of a Masters Degree in Accounting, he still had to fight lack of opportunities and ended up losing the war thus resorting to business.

Kenya Exports Limited helps Kenyans abroad transport goods back home. PHOTO| COURTESY

"By 2007 , I came out with a Masters and in 2008 I was working on projects.. later on found out I  had nothing to do that is why I went into business," tells Daring Abroad.

His small savings helped him put his fast foot forward to start the Kenya Exports Limited company that helps Kenyans in the UK and other parts of the wold in shipping their goods to Kenya.

"Kenya Exports Limited offers solutions to Kenyans who live in the UK or who live anywhere in the world and would like to ship anything from UK to Kenya," Njuguna further narrates.

Adding that, "We handle all the preparations, inspection, booking of containers or airline, space and we ship them to Kenya."

With his  background in economics and further experience from Shiefiled Hallam University where he studied accounting, Morris Njuguna narrates to Daring Abroad the factors to consider when starting a business, cost implications and what to do when things seem to be going south in business.

"When I started this business I was in London, I used to live in one bedroom flat, that is where I started my business," he says.

"I looked for storage, with time family grew, we were constantly looking for somewhere knowing how London is I had to look for somewhere else for parking place for my business, looking was suiting me better, space and cost."

ESSEX, LONDON- Anne Wafula Strike is like the proverbial cat with 9 lives. In her whole life, she has defied odds, fought superstition and challenged status quo because she was meant to live like a normal human and not be locked up in some hut in Webuye, Kakamega County.

Her story is that of determination, guts and positivity. It is inspiring and motivating especially when you look back to her days growing up. And in that spirit, Anne Wafula Strike has defied all the disability odds to become a powerful, admired role model in the United Kingdom. She literally dines with royalty.

"I was born as a normal healthy child- that is what my parents tell me. And when I was two and half years, I got very ill; nobody knew what was happening," she says.

"And because of the kind of life then, there were two minds. Christians believed I was cursed by God and the traditionalists believed I had been bewitched."

Also on Daring Abroad

Apart from championing the rights of persons living with disability in the UK, Anne Wafula Strike is also a paralympian. She has participated in five Paralympics since 2004 and has also been to World Championships. But it has been long, a very long story, she says.

We met Anne Wafula Strike at a training session in Harlow Leisure zone, Essex in South East London. PHOTO| COURTESY

Had it not been for the aggression of her father though, a former military warrant officer, Anne Wafula Strike would not be who she is today. Her entire family had to fight superstition, primitive and archaic beliefs of her community back then, to let her live and see her dreams come true. And that her father did, against all the odds.

"The traditionalists expected my father to abandon me because they started seeing me as an outcast, a burden just like other disabled children who are locked up in houses," Anne tells Daring Abroad.  

"It was then that my father took me to Kenyatta hospital where I was diagnosed with polio."

On Daring Abroad tonight, Anne Wafula-Strike also tells Alex Chamwada how and why villagers back in Mihuu, Webuye wanted to burn their home, how they managed to escape and the role her father played during the tumultuous times.

"We had to flee our home and ended up in Kahawa Barracks because my dad was in the army," she narrates.

LOITA, (NAROK COUNTY) -While the war against poaching and encroachment of the Mau Forest jumped from a good initiative to politics and war pitting communities against each other, it is a different picture in Loita Forest, about 147km away from Narok town.

Here, in Loita village, residents have taken it upon themselves to conserve the forest; fight against poaching and cutting down of indigenous trees. Loita, fondly known by locals as Naimina Enkiyio (forest of the lost child), is one of the remnants of indigenous forests in Kenya.

Locals believe it is theirs to treasure, aided by a global non-profit organisation - International Fund for Animal Welfare Protection (IFAW) and Ilkimpa Community Conservation Association (ICCA).

The Ten Boma model is akin to national government's Nyumba Kumi initiative and brings together members of the community into conserving the environment. It includes elders like the Oloiboni, community scouts, rangers and morans with a common goal of conserving the environment.

Faye Cuevas, Senior Vice President of IFAW, said they developed the idea following the suspected killing of elephants in Loita Forest in 2016."It was then that we started looking at what we as IFAW could do to help the community conserve Loita Forest,” she said.

"Ten Boma is a wildlife security initiative that focuses on providing security for wildlife and people that live near protected areas," Ms Cuevas explained.

"It works in such a way that we built a system that data information about security threats, analyses that data and delivers it to the law enforcement agencies," she said.

Members of the community were divided into enough groups to protect the land and according to their leaders; they have played significant roles in its conservation.The project addresses the Loita Maasai sub-clan of the Inkidongi (Laibon) lineage, a community of about 3,272 men and women and another 25,000 indirect beneficiaries in the wider Loita community.

"We have community rangers and scouts who act as our eyes because we cannot access Loita Forest all the time," said ICCA Director Crescentia Senteu.

The Oloiboni, who is the spiritual leader of the Maasai community, leads the elders and the entire team in conserving the forest. Loita Forest is a sacred place and no one is allowed into the forest without the direct and authoritative permission of the Oloiboni.

Among the groups, there are two special categories whose roles are more advanced. First are the scouts; eight well trained, equipped and dressed passionate men whose role is to tour the forest, guard it, record coordinates and compile reports in an occurrence book before sending verified data to their main office.

Secondly, and more interestingly, are the women photographers from an empowerment group called Nkonyek Oolkimpa. These are aggressive women who believe that pictures can indeed tell a story. IFAW, in conjunction with Lensational, provide them with cameras and photography lessons.

They are then asked to document whatever they encounter around Loita Forest.Kenya Wildlife Service through the Narok County Senior Warden Dickson Ritan plays an advisory role to the community and believes community organisation plays a huge role in forest conservation.Working together"We have been working together with communities in the land around Masai Mara National Reserve and so far we have 16 community conservancies," Mr Ritan said.

Compared to other forests in Narok County, Loita seems to benefit hugely from the Ten Boma strategy and so begs the question, why can't other communities, including those around Mau, do the same?

Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya, who has been at the center of fighting encroachment in Mau Forest, said the two scenarios were different.

“What we are seeing in the Mau is that the forest was left for everyone. No one is responsible. That is why people come from as far as Kisii, Nyamira, Nakuru and other places to invade the forest,” he said.

A similar edition of this article was published on the Standard Digital 

KWALE COUNTY- It is known all over the world for its beaches of the Kenyan South Coast, the most popular being Diani. However, Kwale being one of the marginalized Counties in Kenya, many places here are prone to poverty hence many school going children find their way out of school to seek alternative means of income.

This income is used to support families and is often relied on by the young boys and girls for their day to day necessities of life.

It was observed that parenting, poverty, and lack of education are the main contributors to high numbers of school drop outs in Kwale.

Wairimu Munyinyi Wahome who is the Executive Director of Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) told Chams Media that Kwale is one of the region with high prevalence of school dropouts and her organization is striving to change the narrative.

“Kwale County is one of the counties in Kenya that has very high numbers of girls that are out of school, the enrollment rates are low and even for the few girls that make it to school, their retention and transition rates to secondary school are even lower," she said.

One of the facilitators taking the girls through training at Kingwede Girls. PHOTO| HUMPHREY ODHIAMBO, CHAMS MEDIA

However, various stakeholders have come in to rescue the girls from early marriages, teenage pregnancies, and rampant school dropout cases.

According to Joyce Karigia of Terre des Hommes Netherlands, partnerships have been key. She says “In Kwale, we partner and work closely with the Kwale Child Rights Network and also the Gender Technical Working Group in Kwale to advocate and lobby with the girls.”

Through Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) program under implementation by the COVAW and Terre des Hommes Netherlands, at least 21 women and girls working groups have been identified.

These girls are trained on how to champion and advocate for their rights. For instance, at the training done at Kingwede Girls Secondary School in Msambweni Sub-County last week, the girls actively participated.

Through such training, the girls and young women get empowered to appreciate life and work hard towards self-reliance.

It is expected that such trainings will help change the mindsets of the community that has overtime relied on backward cultural practices so that girl’s rights are upheld.

World leaders gathered in Katowice, Poland for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). The key agenda was to negotiate how to tackle climate change.

In Kenya, climate change is the main environmental threat that affects every aspect of our lives. Dr. Richard Munang, from UN environment, explains that Africa is losing 68 billion US dollars as a result of environmental degradation.

With global warming being the major subject discussed at the COP24, Kenyans have a reason to be worried. This is because, just like in other developing countries, Kenya is at the tipping point of global warming. Experts claim that not much is being done to handle climate change in Kenya.

experts are now advocating for the use of renewable energy

As a result of global warming, an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts and floods has hit various parts of our country. for this reason, experts are now advocating for the use of renewable energy as a mitigation measure to combat adverse impacts of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

From what is gathered at the COP24, many countries with emerging economies appear committed to fighting climate change, but very few are actually on track to achieving these goals. David Fredrick, a naturalist, explains, "If we do not take action on climate change, the extinction of most of our natural world will be on the rise."

All this results in one major question, 'What role can a corporate play in mitigating climate change? On this show, we focus on the African Guarantee Fund, an organization that saw the need to save Kereita forest in Kiambu County, by planting trees.

They are aware of the benefits of trees in mitigating climate change and for that reason, turned up in large numbers of more than 300 people, including AGF's partner financial institutions, and planted more than 10,000 trees.

AGF conducting a tree planting day at Kereita forest

Felix Bikpo, AGF's CEO noted, "SME's need to acquire the right green technology for them to be competitive tomorrow." Various corporates agreed on the fact that climate change is real and is man-made.

According to experts, Kenya is yet to achieve the United Nation's recommended 10% forest cover. Many organizations, however, have proven to be doing all they can to ensure they come up with new strategies to tackle climate change. One of such strategies is the Green Facility by the African Guarantee Fund.

The Green Facility is a financial instrument as well as a risk management tool that AGF uses to support the various green initiatives available in the market to address climate change.

Knowing that SME's have a key role in mitigating climate change, this should be the language of every corporate. In so doing, the already known and dreaded major environmental challenge will soon be done away with.

NAIROBI, (KENYA)- The decision by Nairobi County governor Mike Sonko to kick out of the city public transport vehicles caused an overwhelming uproar that saw it revoked 12 hours after its unprecedented implementation.

It was a decision that saw many city dwellers walk for long distances to and from their places of work with some of them accusing the governor of being inconsiderate.

"It was made in a rush," someone argued while others said the County government should have provided an alternative transport system in and out of the central business district before banning matatus.

While suspending the decision, governor Mike Sonko apologized to Nairobi residents saying the intention was not to cause pain but decongest the city and also keep Nairobians fit.

There has been a lot of talks about how to decongest Nairobi's central business district for a while now, a step that requires expertise, wider consultations and public participation.

While this is happening, there is a Kenyan scholar who has helped transform the transport system in London, United Kingdom. Prof Washington Ochieng from the Centre for Transport Studies at the Imperial College in London is the brain behind the revered transport system in London and some across Europe. He was featured in Chams Media's The Chamwada Report show in 2016.

In an interview with Alex Chamwada then, Prof Ochieng termed Nairobi's  transport  system 'clumsy.'

"When I go to Nairobi, it (transport system) is like free for all. Things appear to be chaotic," he said.

However, he believes the situation can be salvaged with expertise and lessons learned from other countries including the UK.

"What needs to be done is to produce a strategic longterm transport masterplan. But you need to put the initial house (current situation) in order first."

"And that masterplan must include all policymakers, stakeholders and the public," he said.

Prof Ochieng, who is originally a civil engineer with a surveying background, however, said it is not as easy. From his past experience in developing the European navigation system and London congestion charter, a lot of factors must be considered. And Nairobi's makes things even more difficult.

"I was instrumental in creating the first ever European space navigation system. I am also involved in transforming London."

"To do these you really have to understand the culture of the city itself. Then there is the question of capacity and capability of a nation to do that."

Prof Ochieng also said that issues like corruption and the type of governance also play a role in aid of proper transport structure in a city.

"Good governance is also an issue- that significant investment must go the exact amount."

Watch the full interview in the video attached.

NAIROBI-During this year’s Sustainable Blue Economy Conference which will  take place between November 26th and 28th at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, one of the key contributors to successful Blue Economy is diaspora which will be discussed in depth at a diaspora side event which will take place on the 26th November at the University of Nairobi.

The output of this side event will be a Diaspora Blue Economy Plan of Action that could be considered and adopted by diaspora stakeholders to enhance the role of the diaspora for national development and global solidarity.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb. Macharia Kamau says the diaspora side event will activate and raise awareness on how to successfully invest in resource across countries with huge blue economy.

"There is a lot of innovations and a lot of industry but a lot of it is built around their huge enormous water resources and over the years if you look at European countries they’ve built their economies on the blue economy by venturing abroad,” he told Chams Media.

Further adding that, “Diasporas also help themselves by investing back home. Most of the resources that come for example in Kenya come from a Kenyan diaspora but they are investing for themselves their relatives and so on."

The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference will be co-hosted by Kenya, Japan and Canada and will bring together delegates from economies powered largely by oceanic and marine resources worldwide. Oceans and marine resources are acknowledged to be a playing critical role in advancing sustainable development in various countries.

Blue Economy covers the productive pillar of oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers including fisheries, aquaculture, transport, tourism and other related activities.

Amb. Macharia Kamau says the conference, which will also be attended by various heads of states, will act as a motivating factor as Kenya gears towards co-hosting the United Nations Oceans Conference in 2020 in partnership with Portugal.

“We have commitments from one of the greatest blue economy protagonists, the President of the Seychelles is coming, we have prime ministers and presidents from as far away as Fiji and Samoa and the Pacific Ocean coming,” he said.

“We are part of a global family and as you know Kenya will be hosting in 2020 the United Nations Oceans Conference. We have partnered with Portugal and its actually going to take place in Lisbon in Portugal so much of what is happening here is going to feed into the United Nations process.”

The event will take place between 26th and 28th November 2018 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre with the diaspora event happening at Taifa Hall in the University of Nairobi on November 26th.

Key points to note ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference


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