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80,000 groups empowered through Uwezo Fund

At least 7.2 Billion shillings has so far been disbursed to women groups, youth and persons living with disability under the Uwezo Fund.

The funds were disbursed to 80,000 groups drawn from across the 290 constituencies across the country.

Women groups were the biggest beneficiaries as they received the lion’s share of the funds at 5.724 Billion while youth groups got 2.264 Billion. Persons living with disabilities got 216 million.

The repayment rates are however still low with only 40 percent of the borrowed loans having been repaid.

The Fund’s loan officer Dr. Annie Njau told participants at a workshop on affirmative funds that Central Kenya constituencies had the highest uptake of the government funds whose intention is to expand financial access to vulnerable groups.

Dr Njau noted that the constituency with the highest uptake and repayment of the funds currently was at 164 percent while the lowest is at 8 percent.

She told the participants who were drawn from the media sector that Northern Kenya uptake was still very low as the concept of borrowing had not yet been fully embraced.

She told the participants that the Fund was working on the review of legislation with a view to amending existing laws to make the Fund more user friendly to its target audience.

Dr Njau noted that there was need to establish unified fiscal and legislative mechanisms to avoid duplication of roles within the affirmative funds.

She said that the review would also enable the establishment of credit guarantee schemes that will protect small and medium enterprises.

The loans officer noted that most of the targeted beneficiaries of affirmative funds are mainly informal and therefore even accessing credit is a major challenge.

It is in this regard that the government hopes to empower them for self-employment through financial support.

The funds are disbursed in two models namely Wezesha for beginners who can borrow 50,000 while the Endeleza model has a maximum of 500 000 for repeat borrowers.

The loans have no collateral but members of each individual group are able to guarantee one another.

By Jane Ngugi

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