The Government has been requested to include men hooked into alcoholism and substance abuse as members of marginalized groups.
Presenting her views during the ongoing public participation forums on the Financial Inclusion Fund (Hustlers Fund), Ms. Jane Kamwaga said there is need to recognize men struggling with alcoholism as a group that needs special attention in regard to care and rehabilitation in order to ensure such persons also benefit from the money after recovery.
Kamwaga who is the founder of Murang’a Women Economic Network has also proposed a significant percentage of the Sh 50 billion kitty be allocated to women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
“I wish to propose that the fund (Hustler Fund) focus more on those persons living at the bottom of the pyramid with 30 to 40 per cent of this money going to them. Secondly a specific fund should also be set aside to cater for the needs of men and more so those currently struggling with the challenge of alcoholism since they are among the forgotten groups,” she said during the consultative meeting also attended by representatives from Laikipia, Kirinyaga and Nyeri.
Cyrus Kiare, a youth leader from Laikipia and founder of National Youth for Business in Kenya proposed the Fund’s turnaround time be shortened to enable lenders access the money within the shortest time possible.
He also asked the Government to transform the Advisory Board mandated to manage the disbursement and recovery of the money semi-autonomous arguing that this would free it from unnecessary bottlenecks that may discourage many of the young persons from accessing the money.
“This fund should be friendlier compared to what cooperative societies offer to clients in terms of interest charged. I therefore submit that the interest for this loan be zero rated to allow youths who lack security for borrowing money to use their Mpesa statements for those without bank statements,” he submitted.
His sentiments were echoed by Boniface Gathura from Kirinyaga County who appealed to the Board to consider setting aside a special allocation for fresh university graduates who in most cases find themselves with no reliable source of income once they are out of college.
Gathura said it becomes tricky for such unemployed graduates to access funds as startup capital as the majority of commercial lenders require borrowers to produce proof of security before they can consider one for a loan.
“There is always a need to have a niche for any fund. Who are your target (groups)? There are mama mboga, cart pushers and fresh university graduates. Part of the budget for the Hustler Fund should be given to fresh graduates from Technical and vocational education and training institutes so that if these people have bankable ideas, then they are able to employ themselves and employ others,” he submitted.
Lucy Wanyitu who is Chair to Delegated Legislations at the Nyeri County Assembly proposed lowering of interest on money lent to PWDs to enable them reap maximum benefit from the fund.
Wanyitu also requested the Government to protect borrowers from unscrupulous financial institutions that may take advantage of the harsh economic times to exert additional charges on the money before dispensing the loans.
“The Advisory Board should cushion borrowers from punitive interests that may be rated by Cooperative banks and Saving and Credit Cooperative Societies. Lenders should be regulated so that they do not take advantage of the fund,” suggested Wanyitu who was also representing PWDs.
The Sh 50 billion Hustler fund was one of Kenya Kwanza’s 2022 campaign promises that proposed to create a revolving fund to help boost the country’s economy by availing affordable credit facilities to small scale business operators.
The money will also come as a big relief to small-scale traders such as vegetable vendors, boda boda operators and beauty parlour owners, majority of who cannot afford the punitive interest rates required by commercial lenders for one to qualify for a loan.
However, to qualify for the Hustler Fund, one must have attained the age of 18 years and hold a valid national ID card. Beneficiaries should also be members of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), SACCO societies, merry go rounds and table banking groups, or any other registered association.
Once President Dr William Ruto officially launches the Fund on December 1, a Chief Executive Officer will be appointed to open and operate bank accounts with the approval of a Board and the National Treasury and oversee the day-to-day administration of the Fund.
One of regulations in the management of the money has also spelt stiff penalties for those who violate the provisions detailed in the acquisition, utilization and repayment of the loan including a Sh 10 million fine or an imprisonment of up to five years in case of misappropriation.
By Samuel Maina and Wangari Mwangi