Please pay Hustler Fund loans, Ruto pleads with Kenyans

President William Ruto

President William Ruto addresses traders after launching the construction of a modern market in Embu County on May 26, 2023.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

The Head of State said his government was determined to empower all Kenyans financially.

President William Ruto on Friday told Kenyans to pay the Hustler Fund loans they took, even as he drummed up support for the controversial proposed housing fund as a way to cure joblessness.

Speaking in Embu, Dr Ruto said that the loans that attract eight per cent interest annually must be paid.

"The Hustler funds are not for free and should be returned to the government," he said.

He reminded Kenyans that the soft loans were advanced to them to start small businesses to uplift their living standards.

"We wanted Kenyans to access funds so as to benefit and they should not abuse the programme. Some people are saying they voted for me and they must keep the funds, no it should not happen like this. The funds given are debts and Kenyans should pay up," he said.

He promised to launch stage two of the funds during Madaraka Day Celebrations so that Kenyans can benefit even more.

"In stage two, Kenyans will be able to get between Sh20,000 and Sh200,000 without collateral," he said.

Financial empowerment

Accompanied by his deputy Rigathi Gachagua, the Head of State said his government was determined to empower all Kenyans financially.

He said Embu residents had borrowed Sh500 million and 70 per cent of them had paid the loans.

He said his government had spent millions of shillings to transform Embu town and its environs.

Dr Ruto praised Governor Cecily Mbarire as a hard working leader who is uplifting the living standards of her people.

"We have even elected Mbarire as the chairperson of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) due to her competency," he said.

President Ruto explains Hustler Fund

At the same time, President Ruto declared that the government's plan to create jobs for five million unemployed Kenyans through low cost affordable housing and empowering small medium enterprises was unstoppable.

He lamented that millions of Kenyans, majority who are youths, were roaming the streets doing nothing and they must be assisted.

"Creating jobs is not a game of guess work, creating jobs should be intentional, practical and must be planned," he said.

Speaking when he officially opened the Madaraka Exposition at University of Embu, the President stressed that ending unemployment in Kenya was urgent.

“The real motivation behind the housing plan is the jobs we are going to create for young people in Kenya. We have plans to create one million jobs every year for the benefit of our young people who are currently suffering. We are capable of fixing the unemployment problem in Kenya," he stated.

He said the number of Kenyans without jobs is on the rise and the situation was of grave concern.

"Every year we have 800,000 young people who complete their education and have no jobs, we must come up with innovative ways to help them," he said.

Job creation

The Head of State explained that the housing programme would create jobs for thousands of Kenyans.

"For instance, every house will require five people to construct and this means a lot of Kenyans will have an opportunity to do that work since we shall build thousands of houses," he said.

He said that through the bottom-up economic agenda many young people will be absorbed into the labour markets.

He faulted critics of the low cost housing, saying they have no interests of jobless Kenyans at heart.

"Some people ask what is the urgency of constructing of these houses, but I'm telling them that my concerns are the five millions of Kenyans who have no work to do, it is urgent to look for jobs for our youthful generation despite opposition by critics," he said.

He explained that youths will be involved in the construction of the houses which will be built across the country.

Other youths will be required to supply building materials to be able to eke out a living.

Again the President said affordable housing will get rid of the sprawling slums which are not conducive for Kenyans.

"We have 1,411 slums where 6.5 million people live. Our people should be accommodated in hygienic houses and that is why we have come up with the housing programme," he added.

DP Gachagua asks borrowers to repay Hustler Fund loans to increase limits

On SMEs, the President said his government will invest heavily in construction of markets to create jobs and spur economic growth.

"We shall construct 181 modern markets across the country where our traders will carry out trade without disruptions. Fourteen county aggregation and industrial parks where farmers’ produce will be processed and sold without interference by cartels will be established," he said.

Further,  Dr Ruto said additional jobs will be created through digital and technology platforms.

In every ward the government will establish an ICT hub where youths will be doing online jobs.

"There are plenty of online jobs and youths should be empowered to acquire them," he said.

The President underscored the need to train cooperative societies management officials for prudent management of funds.

He ordered that the officials be trained to ensure no misuse of funds belonging to the farmers.

Dr Ruto instructed the Cooperative Cabinet Secretary to have his directive implemented without delay.

Opposition criticised

Mr  Gachagua hit out at the opposition, accusing them of trying to sabotage the housing project.

"President Ruto means well for Kenyans but our detractors want to sabotage his development agenda, they should be ignored," he said.

He accused the opposition of having nothing to offer to Kenyans.

"The truth of the matter is that affordable housing will get rid of slums and employ our people, we are inviting our detractors if affordable houses can't solve the issue of unemployment and slums to give us their plan," said Mr Gachagua.

The Deputy President said the affordable housing Programme was in Jubilee agenda but the opposition messed it up.

Mr Gachagua reiterated that the war on drugs and illicit alcoholic drinks must continue in Mount Kenya region.

He observed that youths have wasted away due to the brews and drugs and they must be eradicated.

"These drugs have rendered young men impotent and our maternity wards are empty. The situation is serious," said Mr Gachagua amid laughter.

Ms Mbarire told the President that Embu residents fully support the housing programme.

"This is a very good idea and we are for it," she said.

The Manyatta MP Gitonga Mukunji said he and his colleagues are ready to back the affordable housing plan in the National Assembly.

He thanked the government for planning to build the Rukuriri Sporting Complex in his constituency.

"The government will pump a lot of money into this project and I am a happy leader," he said.

President Ruto launched development projects in Embu, which included the Sh700,million Embu market and housing project.

He also opened a new wing at Embu Level Five Hospital and Winas Sacco in Embu town.