Lack of affirmative fund data blamed for slow loan repayments

Women Enterprise Fund chief executive officer, Dr Charles Mwirigi makes a point during the interview

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Lack of information regarding affirmative action funds has been blamed for the sluggish repayment of loans by some beneficiaries.

Awareness campaigns by the oversight board helped change perceptions among borrowers, said Prof Losenge Turoop, the Uwezo Fund chairperson.

“When we came in, the repayment percentage among the beneficiaries was about 34 per cent but currently stands at 42 per cent,” he said.

“What we did is that we went round the country and talked to the target group on the need to repay the revolving funds.”

He said the way of life of people in frontier areas had led to low uptake of the funds, citing the current biting drought and migration of herders.

Prof Turoop said that due to a myriad of challenges, money allocated for affirmative action has been reduced.

The agency is working with stakeholders to improve uptake and repayment of loans, he added.

For her part, National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) chairperson Florence Kirinya said her agency wants to make sure that the funds are utilised well by arming beneficiaries with more information.

The fund, she explained, is a government initiative aimed at addressing the plight of vulnerable groups, and reducing poverty and inequality.

It targets women, youth, people with disabilities, needy children and the elderly.

Prof Wanjiku Kabira, the chairperson of the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF), voiced the need to reduce multiple certificates needed to register groups.

She called for the right policies to make it easier to register women’s groups so that they could also benefit from affirmative funds.

WEF chief executive Dr Charles Mwirigi said the agency has introduced a new scheme targeting widows, saying available statistics showed at least one million women had lost their spouses.

“We now have a new category product called Dhamini targeting widows. We want every woman in Kenya to access the funds,” Dr Mwirigi said.

He was upbeat about the repayment rate among benefiting women’s groups, saying it stands at an impressive 98 per cent.

He said the money the agency loans out is mainly from loans repaid by beneficiaries of the revolving fund.