Comrades, here’s an app to keep you from squandering Helb funds

Peter Muraya

Peter Muraya, Chief Executive Officer of Super Pay Application that seeks to guide students on their daily spending.

Photo credit: Pool

 A joke is often told depicting the life of a college student (comrade) in Kenya. As the semester begins, the comrade’s wallet is fat thanks to pocket money from parents and the HELB disbursement. For the first few weeks, the comrade eats chicken almost every day.

As the money starts running out, they start eating chicken products like eggs or cheaper chicken parts like feet and necks. Towards the end of the semester, the comrade is so broke that they can only afford to eat like chicken—plain boiled maize with scanty greens.

Although hilarious, this joke accurately captures the lived experiences of many university students. Parents and guardians of these students know best where the shoe pinches particularly in the present economic crisis. In a recently concluded campaign, HELB issued a 100 per cent penalty waiver to outstanding loans as an incentive to encourage loan repayment so they can disburse funds to current university cohorts.

However, even after HELB releases funds and parents dig deeper to send upkeep to their children, comrades still end up in the hilarious cycle we looked at earlier. Why so? It is a question of mismanagement of funds.

This problem is what inspired Peter Muraya , founder and CEO of Empower Smart Limited, to come up with a digital solution to help comrades budget their money.

“While on campus at Kenyatta University, life was really tough, especially a few weeks after the semester began. I suffered anguish and stress , common symptoms of lacking money. Sometimes I was forced to skip meals. But all these problems were brought by indiscipline in handling money. You see, HELB used to be disbursed as a lump sum amount to last me four months. I used to blow it within two weeks by buying the latest fashion trends and endless partying. Once it the money ran out, I would be back to surviving on one meal a day and at worst, begging for money back home.”

The saying goes, once bitten twice shy, but for Muraya and most comrades, the next HELB disbursement robbed them of all shyness and then the cycle would continue.

For Muraya, the digital solution named ‘Super Pay’ is a user-friendly application meant to help comrades stick to a daily budget and break free from that destructive cycle that he is all too well familiar with. So, how does it work? Muraya explains:

“Both the sender, in most cases a parent or guardian, and the student will need to install the Empower Smart App. Then, on the app there is an Empower Wallet which the sender tops up using Mpesa or e-bank. The sender then selects on Super Pay how much money they wish to allocate for the student’s daily or monthly use. If the disbursement is set on a daily basis, the amount is released in the student’s wallet on Super Pay at midnight each day. For instance, if the sender has deposited Sh12,000 , they can set a daily quota of Sh400. The student cannot access anything more than the set limit on the app.”

For monthly releases, the funds get automatically released after every 30 days from the set starting date.

The sender can also set on the app the specific tills or accounts the dependent can pay the released amount to.

The app is not exclusive to college students, other people can also supervise for themselves a daily quota which the app releases for them ensuring adults can better manage their spending predictably over a set period of time.

“In some cases, guardians are forced to send small amounts to their dependents in essence transferring the burden of not impulse spending the money themselves. Super Pay is freedom at the tap of a button not only as far as children are concerned but also for household spending,” adds Muraya.

Muraya notes that Super Pay is ideal for all types of dependents and households in terms of funds management.

It can also be used by businesses to manage petty cash and can be used by government for welfare disbursements.

“We use the app in my home where there is a daily budget which my wife created and to avoid the allocated funds being used for unallocated spending, I send the entire budget to her on super pay and set the agreed daily quota,” he adds.

This digital solution, besides giving back to comrades but rescuing them from woes of squandering cash, also earns income that is generated from fixed low transaction fees.

Muraya, who studied economics and philosophy at Kenyatta University, certificate course in Entrepreneurship from Strathmore University and has undergone several governance trainings including the Effective Directorship course by the Institute of Directors, has put his knowledge and skills to good use through this innovative venture.

"My previous background before heeding the entrepreneurship call was a sales executive in advertisement," he says.

He says the background allows him to be great in building brands and in distribution of the solutions to the masses.