Ruto triples women fund, sets interest rate on loans at 6 percent

Women in business across Kenya will have a larger pool of funds to tap from following President William Ruto’s move to increase the money where they get loans from the current Kes4.5 billion to Kes13.5 billion.

What’s more, the President said women will be making their application for loans via a digital platform similar to his signature Hustler Fund channel and the credit will attract 6 percent interest rate per annum.

“The funds available under the women enterprise fund has been at Kes4.5 billion for the last 15 years, we are going to triple the resources available under that fund so that we can also triple the number of women groups that will benefit from the fund,” said Dr Ruto, adding “we will increase the Affirmative Action Fund from Kes2 billion to Kes3 billion every year.”

The President was speaking on Thursday at the KICC during the relaunch of the Women Enterprise Fund where he said the credit scheme will also eliminate red tape and unnecessary intermediaries who have always caused delays when accessing the monies. Starting next week, applicants will be getting their money immediately unlike previously when women had to wait for at least 45 days.

The new remodeled Women Enterprise Fund is available on *254#, same platform the Hustler Fund uses where access to loan is instant. We have eliminated financial intermediaries to ensure dignity in borrowing and cut down on the cost of accessing credit, the President explained.

The President also took the opportunity to launch the second product under his administration’s Financial Inclusion Program, a micro loan product targeting businesses, either run by individuals or groups, seeking loans of between Kes10,000 and Kes200,000. These loans will be available to Kenyans at 7 percent interest rate per year, he said. The loans will be repaid between one and 12 months.

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Dr Ruto’s signature credit program, Hustler Fund, has so far disbursed Kes21.19 billion to Kenyans running micro, and small-scale enterprises with women accounting for nearly 60 percent of the borrowers. The program’s savings component has so far realized Kes1.055 billion in savings three months since the product was launched.

President Ruto: “If you save your money in the hustler fund (on *254#), you will get paid interest rates monthly equivalent to the rates on Treasury Bills.”

Established in August 2007, the Women Enterprise Fund is a semi-autonomous government agency in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs that offers accessible and affordable loans to support women start and/or expand their business with a view to boost the creation of jobs in Kenya.

To get the funds, groups of at least 10 members and above comprising either 100 percent women or 70 percent women and 30 percent men, must be a registered self-help group. Further all leadership positions and account signatories must be held by women and must have an account in a bank or Sacco.

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