President William Ruto launched Hustler Fund on November 30, welcoming millions of Kenyans into a Ksh.50 billion kitty in its first phase which has a minimum loan limit of Ksh.500 and Ksh. 50,000 maximum.
During the launch, the President backed the assigning of credit scores to borrowers in a push for an all-out financial inclusion in a rather perceived market with a high cost of credit.
Metropol CRB has a credit scoring solution dubbed the ‘Metro Score’, generated based on the credit information available on the borrower’s profile with the bureau and considers a number of relevant parameters.
The Metro Score predicts the probability of default for a borrower over a 5-year period and can be used in credit assessment as well as other instances where determining the risk associated with the borrower is pertinent in credit decision-making. The Metro Score is available to all Participating Institutions/parties with user rights to the Metropol Core CRB system.
With the support of USDD code *433#, the Metro Score ranges from 200 – lowest to 900 – highest for individuals and 20-90 for non-individuals.
Lenders and borrowers alike have a lot to benefit from using the Metro Score including but not limited to the following;
a) Prediction of the borrower’s payment behavior. The Metro score, through its advanced indexing system, enables the lender to have a feel of how the borrower is likely to repay the loan whether in the agreed installment periods or the right installment payments.
b) Faster turn-around time for credit assessments. Instead of going through voluminous files to determine the creditworthiness of the borrower, the Metro Score summarizes all that for the lender, and one is able to make a Lend or No Lend decision faster, thus saving time and money for both parties. Related to this, the lender is able to prioritize loan applicants by serving those with a good Metro Score first and the others that may need further assessment are handled later.
c) Objective Credit Assessment. The Metro Score eliminates subjectivity inherent in credit assessment processes and the lender does not have to labor much to explain or justify why the loan has been denied or extended. This will in effect lead to a significant reduction in bad debts.
d) Credit risk policy enhancement. The Metro Score can be used as a benchmark to determine the credit risk appetite of lenders and include this in their credit policies.
e) Risk-based pricing. The Metro Score facilitates lenders to determine interest rates based on one’s credit score. Therefore, loan applicants with good Metro scores should enjoy discounted interest rates and vice versa. This also promotes behavior change among borrowers when they realize that their Metro Score has a bearing on the level of interest they will be charged for their desired credit facilities.
f) On the side of borrowers, a good Metro Score facilitates easy access to credit facilities as many lenders would want to associate with someone who repays their credit facilities as per agreed terms over a sustained period of time.
All participating institutions should take advantage of the Metro Score to simplify their credit assessment processes and enhance efficiency and effectiveness, thereby, reducing losses that may arise from such process inefficiencies.
Family Bank Group has recorded a Ksh.3.7 billion Profit Before Tax for the full year ended December 31, 2022, a 12.2 percent growth compared to Ksh.3.3 billion posted in 2021.
The revenue growth was catapulted by double-digit growth in revenues, customer loans and prudent investment decisions by the Bank.
Total revenues increased by 10.6 percent to Ksh.11.9 billion driven by 10.7 percent growth in net interest income that stood at Ksh.8.6 billion in the period under review largely as a result of exponential growth in interest income from loans and that of government securities which grew by 19.2% and 29.9% respectively in the period under review.
Customer loans grew by 21.6 % to close at Ksh.81.4 billion while net interest income increased by 10.7% to Ksh.8.6 billion. On the balance sheet side, total assets expanded by 15% from Ksh.111.7 billion to close at Ksh.128.5 billion in 2022.
Non-funded income grew by 10.6% to Ksh.3.4 billion, an affirmation that our diversification strategy continues to pay off.
“In 2022, we focused on diversification of product offerings through the financing of second-hand importation and innovative finance for MSMEs in the water and sanitation sector. Through our fundraising partners, having raised over USD 56 billion, we have been able to increase our lending to various MSMEs as well as climate-friendly investments and women-led businesses in education, health, agriculture, energy and manufacturing sectors. This is evidenced by the growth of our revenues, amidst the complex operating environment with the General Elections, drought, impact of the Ukraine-Russia War and post-pandemic recovery,” said Family Bank CEO Rebecca Mbithi.
“We are confident of our performance in 2023 having put in place an aggressive strategy that prioritises heavy investment in digital banking and roll out of agri-finance products as we seek to strengthen our balance sheet through the adoption of additional core capital and long-term debt while driving operational efficiencies across our businesses,” added Ms Mbithi.
In 2022, customer deposits grew by 8.5 percent to close at Ksh.88.9 billion compared to Ksh.81.9 billion recorded in a similar period in 2021.
Staff costs grew by 33 percent due to the Group’s investment in training staff and attracting top-notch talent to support its aggressive strategy and to deliver exceptional service to the customers.
There was a significant reduction in the Group’s loan loss provisions by 35.6% to settle at Ksh.495.1 million against Ksh.768.1 billion recorded in 2021.
Net non-performing loans increased by 18.4 percent to close at Ksh.5.6 billion in 2022 compared to Ksh.4.8 billion in 2021.
The Bank has declared a total dividend of Ksh.0.62 per share.
Shareholders’ funds grew by 3.3% to close at Ksh.16.1 billion. The Group’s Profit After Tax for 2022 stood at Ksh.2.2 billion. The Bank’s capital and liquidity ratios remain strong, adequately above the regulatory requirement.
Recently, the Bank acquired a Ksh.3.9 billion (USD 30 million) lending facility for trade & Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) from the African Development Bank Group (AFDB) to promote onward lending to SMEs in health, renewable energy and agriculture and reduce the SME finance gap, especially for women-led businesses.
Bill and Melinda Gates is expected to spend Ksh.7.9 billion ($60 million) to help drive the digital economy among African women entrepreneurs.
The funds will come in handy through a collaboration with the United States government, a strategic move by President Joe Biden’s administration to suppress China’s influence on the continent.
The initiative was announced by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris while in Ghana, but did not disclose the exact date when the funds will be rolled out.
Harris has been in the west African nation for two days after which she jetted to Tanzania Thursday where she is expected to spend two days before heading to Zambia – the last stop on her four-day African tour.
On Wednesday, Harris donated a whopping Ksh.132.1 billion ($1 billion) for women in Ghana through the private sector in the Capital, Accra.
The African Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative includes nearly Ksh.52.8 billion ($400 million) from the private sector “to help bridge the gender digital divide.”
“Improving the economic status of women and girls is not only a matter of human rights, justice and equity, it is also a strategic imperative that reduces poverty and promotes sustainable economic growth,” she said.
Over Ksh.66 billion ($500 million) out of the $1 billion, will be used to support women’s digital economic empowerment across all African states, Harris said.
While in Kenya last year, Bill Gates announced the foundation would spend more than Ksh.925.1 billion ($7 billion) over the next four years to support African countries and institutions working to develop and implement innovative approaches to confront hunger, disease, gender inequality, and poverty.
“The big global challenges we face are persistent. But we have to remember, so are the people solving them,” said Gates. “Our foundation will continue to support solutions in health, agriculture, and other critical areas—and the systems to get them out of the labs and to the people who need them.”
Thrill-seekers and earnest crypto fans have spent the last few years watching the alternative investment rise and fall – sometimes with exhilaration and sometimes with that sinking stomach feeling.
After hitting an all-time peak of around $69,000 (Ksh.9.1 million current conversation rate) per unit on November 10, 2021, the world’s leading digital currency has since erased roughly 60 percent of its value, sitting at about $26,800 (Ksh.3.5 million) right now.
Bitcoin has since rallied once again over the last several weeks, up nearly 62% so far in 2023.
But what would the world’s most famous investor say to those who might be thinking of buying Bitcoin right now?
“If you…owned all of the bitcoin in the world and you offered it to me for $25, I wouldn’t take it,” Warren Buffett told CNBC earlier this year.
Other than Bitcoin’s disappointing track record, here are three more reasons Buffett won’t go near it.
1. It has ‘no unique value at all’
The billionaire investor doesn’t like Bitcoin because he considers it an unproductive asset.
Buffett has a well-known preference for stocks of corporations whose value – and cash flow – come from producing things. But cryptocurrencies don’t have real value, Buffett said in a CNBC interview in 2020.
“They don’t reproduce, they can’t mail you a check, they can’t do anything, and what you hope is that somebody else comes along and pays you more money for them later on, but then that person’s got the problem.”
2. He doesn’t think crypto counts as money
Buffett has made his share of extremely cutting remarks about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency over the years: “I don’t have any Bitcoin. I don’t own any cryptocurrency, I never will,” he told CNBC back in 2020.
“It does not meet the test of a currency,” the billionaire said on CNBC in 2014. “It is not a durable means of exchange, it’s not a store of value.”
As a tradeable asset, Bitcoin boomed. But does it meet the three criteria of money? According to the most common definition, money is supposed to be a means of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account.
But Buffett calls it a “mirage.”
3. He doesn’t understand it
Buffett became one of the most successful investors in history by sticking with stocks he understands.
“I get in enough trouble with things I think I know something about. Why in the world should I take a long or short position in something I don’t know anything about?”
But people like to gamble, he told CNBC after a 2018 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, which is another problem with nonproductive assets.
“If you don’t understand it, you get much more excited than if you understand it. You can have anything you want to imagine if you just look at something and say, ‘that’s magic.’”
But Buffett’s distaste for crypto stocks doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy Bitcoin. Even the billionaire has come around on sectors he previously spoke out against.
He notoriously avoided tech stocks, even at the height of the dot-com bubble, and now his company’s largest holding is Apple.
President William Ruto is in toured Germany for a Berlin Energy Transition DIablogue where he called on the European Union (EU) to lift the lid on barriers that the block imposed on the African continent to spur the economy.
His speech touched majorly on the Renewable Energy Transition and noted that the African continent will be the next big thing for the sector partnership with the EU and Kenya will lead the way as a hub, possibly by the year 2030.
Kenya’s national grid is small at just 3 Giga Watts – yet 92% of the power on it, comes from zero-carbon sources like geothermal, hydro, wind and solar. We aspire to reach 100% renewable by 2030 – and to take a quantum leap to 100 GW grid size, 100% renewable, by 2040.
Kenya Airways (KQ) profit loss more than doubled when it posted Ksh.38.26 billion in full-year results for 2022.
The loss grew 1.4 times from Ksh.15.87 billion ($120.55 million) posted in 2021 and took the national carrier’s accumulated loss to Ksh.172.68 billion ($1.3 billion).
The results were announced during a virtual investor briefing, on March 27.
Costs grew from Ksh.86.4 billion ($656.29 million) to Ksh.155 billion ($1.18 billion), mainly driven by rising fuel prices. Other direct operating costs shot up due to increased capacity.
However, the board said the airline was on course to hit break-even point this year and profitability by 2024; something it has not done since 2012.
Kenya Airways saw its total revenue increase by 66 percent to Ksh.117 billion ($888.73 million) as passenger numbers rose by 68 percent to 3.7 million and cargo business uplift increased by 3.5 percent to 65,955 tonnes.
The State last year took over the Ksh.69.01 billion ($525 million) debt it had guaranteed Kenya Airways after the airline defaulted on payment.
Last month, in announcing a multi-million dollars loan for Kenya, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlighted that “addressing vulnerabilities” at Kenya Airways and utility Kenya Power was “urgent”.
In our last blog, we featured the plight of Faith – a woman open-air and cross-border trader from Kenya. We highlighted the challenges she faces in accessing credit. We also discussed how existing solutions do not quite serve her needs.
But life was not always so hard for Faith. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Faith was among the 45 percent of Kenyans living a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. She was a well-respected member of her community and the envy of her local women’s group. Her children went to good schools.
Faith owned a thriving retail business in her town that employed three full-time staff. She could comfortably service a USD 1,000 facility she had taken from Milly Finance (name changed), her local financial service provider. She would prepay her loans during good times to save on interest expenses. She was a model borrower for Milly Finance. She envisioned expanding her business and requested Milly Finance to extend her a credit line.
After the pandemic struck, the COVID-19-related restrictions dealt a fatal blow to Faith’s business. Her business was among 20 percent of businesses that closed permanently.
Auctioneers picked off whatever they could to recover the outstanding loans. As she tried to manage the situation, she ended up depleting her savings reserves to pay her employees and keep her family afloat.
Things got so bad at the height of the pandemic that Faith had to downgrade her lifestyle. She moved to a different town. Unable to find meaningful work, Faith tried trading from an open-air market to supplement her income. She tried to borrow to make ends meet. However, risk-averse financial institutions meant little formal credit was available.
Further, formal credit providers did not lend to informal businesses like hers. Faith resorted to borrowing from an informal women’s group. As she was new to the area, she had not cultivated sufficient trust or savings to meet her needs. As a result, informal lenders became her primary source of capital despite their punitive rates.
No matter how hard she tries, Faith is yet to recover fully. Worse still, she no longer has confidence in formal financial institutions.
Like Faith, Milly Finance also struggled through the pandemic. More than 40 percent of Milly Finance’s portfolio deteriorated like many other financial institutions in Kenya, as many borrowers faced significant economic and financial impacts and thus could not service their loans. This situation forced Milly Finance to write off such loans.
Milly Finance also closed its local branches and now only operates from the capital city. However, it can barely survive and no longer afford to offer credit lines to micro-entrepreneurs. Instead, Milly Finance has anchored its turnaround strategy on lending to salaried up-market customers. Its dreams of digital transformation are shattered.
Even in the best times after COVID-19, Milly Finance and other financial institutions would struggle to meet the needs of micro-entrepreneurs like Faith.
According to our research, financial institutions find it difficult to cost-effectively tailor financial products for micro-entrepreneurs. Tailoring financial products for micro-entrepreneurs is difficult due to costs driven partly by the lack of scale to justify the business case.
Digital transformation for financial institutions is critical for them to remain relevant and competitive in an increasingly digital landscape. Beyond costs to implement, digitization also requires effective change management procedures and commitment from the board and senior management. If these essential components are lacking, efforts to transform the financial institution are often met with resistance and are short-lived.
Click here to watch a webinar on digital transformation for more insights.
A transition to risk-based lending and using alternate data to appraise customers would also be a game-changer. Unfortunately, these investments require upfront capital, which is not easy for Milly Finance and other financial institutions to come by in a post-pandemic and high-inflation environment.
Moreover, Kenya’s macroeconomic outlook makes it difficult for financial institutions, such as Milly Finance, to obtain wholesale credit cheaply. With a weakened shilling and reduced foreign currency reserves, lenders face high currency risk when servicing dollar-denominated debt. Locally, the situation is worse. With the 91-day T-bill rate at 9 percent, the government continues to borrow heavily from the domestic market to meet its development agenda due to an inability to access funds at cheaper rates internationally. This dependence on the domestic market raises lending costs and makes it harder for Milly Finance and others to extend affordable credit to micro-entrepreneurs like Faith.
Fortunately, the government is aware of the challenges that micro-entrepreneurs currently face. In partnership with the private sector, the government has rolled out new measures to lower short-term credit costs and whitelist excluded borrowers. In addition, the government has increased access to affordable, accessible, and convenient credit through the Hustler Fund to fulfill its mandate. The USD 500 million annual Hustler Fund will enable micro-entrepreneurs to access loans ranging from USD 5 to USD 500 at an interest rate of 8 percent per annum.
Undoubtedly, the promise of a single-digit, unsecured credit delivered digitally is attractive to Faith and others like her. Sadly, none of the government’s solutions would solve the problem for Milly Finance or similar financial institutions that face liquidity challenges.
Based on our work with financial institutions in Kenya’s financial sector, we observe that most institutions urgently need solutions that address the three pillars of credit: accessibility, affordability, and convenience.
Affordable, convenient, and accessible credit can become the norm for borrowers and lenders in Kenya by deploying targeted interventions on the demand and supply side. This paradigm shift has the potential to usher in a new future where informal micro-enterprises can flourish, expand, formalize, and contribute meaningfully to the country’s economy. This shift would be significant as more than 80 percent of Kenyans are engaged in the informal sector, which forms 98% of all business activity in the country.
Struggling financial institutions can follow a similar roadmap to regain their footing and cement their legacy in delivering credit that can unlock productive sectors of the economy.
Chinese influence in Africa is becoming troublesome to the world’s most powerful economy, the United States.
To counter the influence, the US in the recent past has been on a strategic mission, announcing bags of goodies for the world’s second-largest continent.
This was witnessed in a press conference by US Vice President Kamala Harris in Acra, Ghana when she said the country and other four West African states will receive Ksh.13.7 billion.
She spoke Monday, March 27, 2023, in a joint presser with Ghanaian President Ana Ado.
“To help address the threats of violent extremism and instability, today I am pleased to announce $100m in support of Ghana,” she said.
Other states which will benefit from the donation are Benin, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Togo.
The multi-billion kitty is meant to counter the ongoing violence and extremism that has rocked the region.
According to Aljazeera, several countries across West Africa and the Sahel region have been struggling to quell violence by armed groups that have caused humanitarian disasters and fuelled discontent, which contributed to military coups in Mali and Burkina Faso.
“We appreciate your leadership in response to recent democratic back-sliding in West Africa,” Harris told Akufo-Addo.
Ghana will receive an extra Ksh.18.3 billion from the U.S government in the 2024 fiscal year – Harris said.
U.S. is clamoring for Africa’s potential even as the country has been blaming China for overburdening the continent with debts.
African Heads of State have for the past two decades grown an appetite for China’s funding to finance activities in infrastructure and mining sectors.
This includes Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway which runs from Mombasa city to Naivasha. The project cost a whooping Ksh.427 billion – Kenya’s largest infrastructure project ever.
The US is countering this influence through aid and donations.
According to Washington, USAID alone pumped a whooping ksh.39.5 billion for additional aid in Kenya alone in 2022.
When Jill Biden toured Kenya in February this year, the organisation donated Ksh.16 billion to help Kenya tackle drought and hunger.
However, Kenyans did not take it easy with the donation because it came a day when Biden toured the country and two days after the Supreme Court of Kenya in its controversial ruling said the L***Q people have a right to be associated with any organisation in the country.
While in Ghana, Harris was asked whether she visited Ghana to support the community.
“I have raised this issue, and I feel very strongly about supporting freedom and equality for all people and that L***Q rights were a human rights issue.
Harris is expected to visit Zambia and Tanzania when she concluded her two-day visit in Ghana.
President William Ruto has invited German businessmen to invest in Kenya’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
He said Kenya stands to benefit from the world’s most experienced, organised and resourced German establishments.
Dr Ruto noted that the sector is the backbone of the German economy, generating more than 60 per cent of employment opportunities.
He was speaking on Monday in Potsdamer Platz in Berlin when he met Dr Markus Jerger, the Chairman of Der Mittelstand-German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW).
According to Dr Jerger, BVMW represents the interests of more than 3.3 million individual enterprises in the country.
The President noted that the Government is committed — under its Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda — to supporting small enterprises to blossom.
“That is why we have put more than Sh50 Billion in the Hustler Fund to provide affordable credit to millions of Kenyans who depend on the MSME sector for a living.”
He noted that so far, the uptake of the facility has been encouraging.
Dr Jerger noted that there are huge opportunities “for us in Kenya’s value addition programme”.
“We can invest in cold storage technology to reduce post-harvest losses. We are already doing it in Senegal,” he said.
Later, the President held talks with the Federal Association for Economic Development and Foreign Trade (BWA) led by its Chairman Michael Schumann and agreed on the approaches to bringing more German and international businesses to Kenya.
The Association cited food processing, digital economy, intellectual property rights, among others, as some of the potential areas to invest in.
Privatization of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) has often been recommended by multilateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank as a strategy of fiscal enhancement. In the medium term, it is a way of raising capital while reducing huge subsidies and bailouts to loss-making SOEs that weigh on the government budget.
Privatization in any field typically aims at enhancing economic efficiency by improving a company’s performance, and cease or reducing the need for government economic intervention.
Globally, one of the notable privatization of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) was British Airways in 1987 when it was listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In Kenya, SOEs have been touted as major contributors to the nation’s expenditure and public debt, given that whenever these companies borrow, the state guarantees the debt.
As at the end of FY’2021/22, publicly guaranteed debt by SOEs stood at Ksh.145.4 billion, a 7.5 percent decline from Ksh.157.2 billion in FY’2020/21.
President William Ruto’s government targets to reduce government expenditure by Ksh.300 billion and the current stock of debt guaranteed for SOEs stands at 48.4 percent of the austerity target.
As a result, privatization of SOEs has been earmarked as a fiscal enhancement strategy. It has been one of the conditions set by multilateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to access concessional borrowing facilities.
Kenya’s privatization process has been exceedingly slow over the years, despite the previous regime earmarking 26 parastatal to be privatized in 2016, none was achieved. However, the new Kenya Kwanza regime has been keen on fast-tracking the process as part of its fiscal consolidation measures.
In October 2022, the new administration announced plans to privatize 6 to 10 of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in the agricultural, energy and financial sectors, within 12 months. As a result, a new Privatization Bill 2023 was introduced, and if approved by the parliament, it will replace the Privatization Act 2005. The bill is set to address the long ambiguous process of privatization stipulated in the privatization act 2005 by eliminating the multi-level approvals.
Some entities lined up for state divesture by the Privatization Commission includes; the Kenya Pipeline Company, the Kenya Ports Authority, the Consolidated Bank, the Development Bank of Kenya and the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation among others.
As such, the initiative is expected to revitalize capital markets and spur new listing at the Nairobi bourse.
Privatization Bill 2023
Recently, the Kenya Cabinet approved the Privatization bill 2023 which is set to replace the Privatization Act 2005 if approved by the parliament.
The new bill is set to address the inhibiting legislative and regulatory framework provided in the privatization Act 2005 that led to long processes of approval of SOEs for privatization. Other key objectives of the bill include;
i. Encourage more participation of the private sector in the economy by shifting the production and delivery of products and services from the public sector to the private sector. Furthermore, broadening the base of ownership in the Kenyan economy by encouraging private ownership of entities,
ii. Improve the infrastructure and the delivery of public services through the involvement of private capital and expertise,
iii. Generate additional revenue for the government through proceeds from privatizations and reduce the demand for government resources by non-strategic SOEs,
iv. Improve the regulation of the economy by reducing conflicts between the public sector’s regulatory functions and commercial functions, and,
v. Improve the efficiency of the Kenyan economy by making it more responsive to market forces and enhance development of the capital markets in Kenya.