Do you wish to start a transport business? Here’s a firm that will walk with you

Watu Credit Kenya Country Manager Erick Massawe (in black polo shirt), admires a motorbike – the kind that the firm helps customers to acquire. On the motorbike is the Nandi County Executive Committee Member for Trade, Tourism, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development, CPA Alfred Lagat. This was during a ceremony to sensitise the public about Watu Credit facilities.

Photo credit: Watu Credit

By Evans Ongwae

Asset financier Watu Credit estimates that it has so far positively impacted the lives of about five million Kenyans indirectly, by providing loans and technical support to over 1 million customers. Most of these entrepreneurs are youths operating in the lower-end transport sector, largely made up of commuter motorcycles locally known as boda boda, and three-wheelers popular as tuk tuk.

Watu Credit Kenya Country Manager, Mr Erick Massawe, says they are excited to empower their customers to turn dreams to reality. “We are delighted and proud to work with them,” he stresses, and expresses his happiness that Watu is building successful entrepreneurs serving the last-mile transport needs for both passengers and goods.

Mr Massawe adds: “The essence of our business is to empower entrepreneurs. Our philosophy is that if our customers are not successful, we are not a successful business.”

Established eight years ago, the Pan-African asset financing firm has so far empowered youths in Kenya to acquire 500,000 motorcycles and operate successful public transport businesses.

Putting this number into perspective, Watu Credit is clearly playing a major role in the country’s boda boda transport segment. It is estimated that Kenya has two million bodasbodas. Therefore, Watu Boda loans account for a quarter of all the bodabodas in the country.

“We offer them affordable and flexible credit, and train them on how to run the business and manage their finances,” Mr Massawe says.

Watu Credit has a customer success (not sales) department, a deliberate decision that underlines the firm’s commitment to empowering entrepreneurs.

Mr Massawe says that the company’s mission is to positively impact lives by supporting millions of people in Africa to fulfil their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs. He points out that at Watu Credit, a customer walks in with a dream, and in less than two hours, walks away with a business. This underscores the firm’s commitment to offering affordable, responsible, and easily accessible asset loans.

Mr Massawe elaborates: “Youth face a number of barriers to business creation and self-employment, hence the growing emphasis to empower them through entrepreneurship coaching and training, start-up financing, and business incubation programmes.”

He cites the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD), an independent trust, which estimates that 23 percent of people aged between 18 and 25 years in Kenya are excluded from financial services. Additionally, few financial service providers in developing countries specifically target the youth.

In Kenya, Watu Credit provides easy to access financing solutions across the following product categories:

  • Mobility: Watu Boda (petrol and electric), and Watu Gari.
  • Connected Devices: Watu Simu (smartphones and tablets).
  • Road Safety: Watu Shule (the first motorcycle driving school financing in Kenya).

In Africa, Watu Credit operates in seven countries, and has employed more than 3,000 people.

Every month, about 5,000-6,000 customers complete repaying their loans.

Watu Credit’s entrepreneurship models allow youths to access various products for use in income generating activities under a pay-as-you-go system. This enables more people to purchase, on credit, motorcycles, tuk tuks, and even cars, to use in self-employment.

Further, as part of its commitment to the evolution of Africa’s mass transport industry and its ecological footprint, Watu Credit is working with key partners to accelerate the transition to electric mobility. Through financing electric motorbikes, this innovative firm is paving the way to a cleaner and sustainable continent for all.

Working with other partners, such as the Boda Boda Association of Kenya (BAK) and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), Watu Credit has embarked on a countrywide road safety programme dubbed Tujenge Msingi, which is Kiswahili for “Let’s build a foundation”. The programme, which launched in 2023, has successfully taken place in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nairobi, Kitale, and Kapsabet, empowering over 5,000 boda boda riders. The activities focus on promoting road safety and professionalism, financial literacy among young people, and the well-being of boda boda riders and owners.