WARIMA MUGGI: Micro-finance opportunities for youth and women

Business & Entreprenuership Feature

Kindly introduce yourself to us, please.

I am Warima Muggi. Warima is a public servant working as a socio-economic empowerment officer for Women Enterprise Fund, a government agency which under the State Department of Gender Affairs.

I am also a lifetime Rotaractor and has been charter member of the Rotaract of UoN-Lower Kabete and a current member of the Rotaract Club of Nairobi East, ‘The Spartans’. During the Rotary years, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, I served the club as the Projects Director. In the year 2020-2021, I will serve as an advisory member of the Club’s Projects Team.

I am a Strategy partner and Gender & Finance trainer at Ubuntu Development Solutions, a Co-founder of Jajabdhu Femme, an Afro-feminist initiative working to transform societal perceptions about the African woman from ASAL areas. I am also a panelist at Jajabdhu’s Perspective, a show running at Isiolo TV.

My education background is in Finance. I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance & Business Information Systems from the University of Nairobi. I am also trained in Certified Investment and Financial Analysis. I have also been a part-time tutor at County College of Professional Studies.

I am a mentor at Greenhorn Mentorship Program and Ex-Bomarian Alumnae where I mentor several young women; and sits at the Isiolo County Gender and Child Protection Working Group, Isiolo Trade and Tourism Sectoral Working Group, Isiolo County Agriculture Sector Steering Committee and Isiolo County Development Implementation Coordination Committee.

I am a certified Afro-feminist and an expert in matters gender advocacy especially in the fields of girl-centred design, eco-feminism, femi-conomics and gender trainings. Furthermore, I am a Pan-Africanist and an SDG Champion.

What microfinance opportunities are availed to the youth, women and PWDs currently?

The government has four main affirmative action funds;

  • Uwezo Fund.

  • Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF).

  • Women Enterprise Fund (WEF)

  • National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF)

The National Council for Persons With Disabilities also has all small kitty but its limited to differently-abled persons. Uwezo Fund and NGAAF are managed by political leaders while WEF and YEDF, on the other hand, are semi-autonomous governmentt agencies that operate somehow like parastatals.

YEDF has products for both individuals, companies and groups while WEF has products for groups, companies and Saccos.

So who is eligible for each of the affirmative action funds and what are the requirements if any?

For WEF:

  • You must be a group of 10 members or more.

  • You must be registered and stayed for a period of three months or more.

  • The membership must be 70% women.

  • The group officials must be women.

  • The group must have an active bank account.

For YEDF;

  • You must be a group of 5 members or more.

  • Your group must be registered.

  • The membership must be 90% youth (18-34 years)

  • The group officials must be youth

  • The group must have an active bank account.

What products do each offer?

The WEF has various products including;

Group Loans.
The loans are on a graduating basis.
Cycle 1: Kshs. 100000
Cycle 2: Kshs. 200000
Cycle 3: Kshs. 350000
Cycle 4: Kshs. 500000
Cycle 5: Kshs. 750000

For LPO/LSO financing for government tenders, you must fulfill the following;

  • Must be a legally registered proprietorship/partnership/company

  • Must be 70% owned by women.

  • Must have AGPO certificate

  • Must provide a highly liquid security motor vehicle/ bank guarantee/ stock from blue chip companies in Nairobi Stock Exchange.

So for you to have your group access funds from WEF and you have satisfied the above requirements, you will go to our website (http://www.wef.co.ke) to identify your region and your constituency officer with their contacts, then you call them and they will organize a financial literacy training. They will guide you on how to fill the loan form and continue with the process.

WEF group loans do not have interest rates attached to them. However, the group is charged 5% loan administrative fee, 100 Bob per member for training and 200/- for an item called a loan tracker book. The training fee and the loan tracker book are charged only on the first loan. As you proceed into subsequent loans, only the administrative fee is charged

The loans have a repayment period as follows;

  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycles have a repayment period of 12 months each.

  • 4th cycle has a repayment period of 15 months

  • 5th cycle has a repayment period of 24 months

For YEDF, they have products like;

Rausha (Group Loan) of Kshs 100000. Payment period is 12 months while the grace period is three months.

Inua.

After a group has paid Rausha successfully, they can move to Inua.

  • Cycle 1: Kshs. 200,000, payment period is 18 months

  • Cycle 2; Kshs. 400,000, payment period is 24 months

  • Cycle 3; Kshs. 600000, payment period is 30 months.

  • Cycle 4; Kshs. 800,000, payment period is 36 months.

  • Cycle 5: Kshs. 1,000,000, payment period is 36 months.

Smart is a product for individuals. It is advanced to an individual member of a group who have successfully repaid a YEDF loan. He/she must be recommended at least 75% of the members.

Vuka loan is also another product for individuals with businesses. It ranges from Kshs. 100,000-500,000 and has a grace period of one month. It has an interest rate of 6% and an administrative fee of 1%. For this one, you must provide collateral.

Most YEDF loans also do not have interest rates but they charge an administrative fee of 5%

Is there a follow-up plan to ensure that these funds are put into good use by the groups?

Yes, there is a due diligence plan right from the onset. It starts from the training process where the officer has to ensure all the members of the group attend the training. The officer also finds out what the group intends to do with the money

When the loan forms get to our office, we also make call-backs to ensure everyone whose name is there knows about the loan. The same applies when the cheque arrives as the entire group has to be present.

Then the officer has to make regular visits to the group over the course of the loan

How do you follow up on the paying of the loans?

We do call backs and make field visits during group meetings.

There is a public view that the awarding of these loans is sometimes biased. How is this notion being eradicated? And what other challenges do youth face with regards to accessing these funds?

Yes, I have heard of the same, that’s why there are several channels of making complaints. If you are having challenges with your local officer, you can contact their regional manager or even call the head office. For example in WEF, favouritism or discrimination of a client is a serious integrity issue and it is punishable by serious discplinary measures such as suspension or even dismissal.

Some of the challenges youth face include;

  • The groups not being aware of the above info.

  • That attitude of “the funds are for a select few’’. Yet anyone from the age of 18 within a group with the qualifications is eligible.

  • The lack of patience; we want money right now yet the instant options available are very predatory.

  • The difficulties associated with forming and maintaining a group for a long time.

  • The logistical challenges of accessing things like group certificate amongst many others

What happens to those unable to repay?

We report you to the chief or any other local provincial administration officers who signed your form. They will summon you and you will enter into an agreement on a future date where you will pay failure to which a collateral of your choice will be taken away.

Are the funds released periodically? What’s the duration span?

Ideally, it should be monthly. For WEF, our maximum turn around time should be 45 days. But it normally takes 30 days. For YEDF, I understand they are having challenges with monthly disbursements due to operational issues. So, sometimes, it may take longer than a month

How can the youth maximise on such funding opportunities?

The “how” is first by getting information and being aggressive in using the information to access these funds. We should also educate other young people who do not have such information.

Also, we need to be proactive and aggressive in pursuing these opportunities. For example register groups and companies, get AGPO certificates. Be prepared in such a way when opportunities arise, you will be the first to grab them and then seek funding to execute them.

Also, we should transform our attitudes and perceptions about these funds, they do not belong to a certain group of people in the society. This is taxpayers’ (all of us) money and all of us have a right to access it. If someone infringes on this right for no reason, then they are not fit to serve in that office.

For example, young women (below the ages of 30) in urban areas rarely take funds from WEF. I don’t know why but I want to state that these funds are available to any woman above the age of 18. I also want to challenge us young people to regularly visit government offices and determine the available opportunities.

Why should youth seek these funding opportunities?

  • They are quite affordable (zero interest rates)

  • They are development oriented rather than profit maximizing.

  • They provide other additional services; financial literacy training, market linkages, product certification linkages, online marketing services, export linkages, trade fair and exhibitions exposure.

  • They are not predatory.

  • They provide gradual financial growth as one appreciates the benefit of putting in the work.

  • They bring like minded people together through formation of business clubs

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