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I have been to Kawangware several times, but still I can never find my way around. This suburb of Nairobi has its main roads, but once you leave them and step into to the maze of narrow alley ways you’re bound to get lost. It’s a breezy day in the dry season, and dust is in the air. In fact dust is everywhere, in your face, ears and nostrils. And on all the goods that are being sold here, vendors and shop keepers fight a hopeless struggle to keep the dust away. It seems that everybody is selling something, shops everywhere. Shops? Not necessarily shops as most people understand the concept: A room with windows, shelves and a door. Here a few square feet and a rough table is enough to set up shop. But there are also ordinary shops, you can get everything in Kawangware. The assortment can be limited, very limited. To mangos for example. Ah, the Kenyan mangos. My wife left for Denmark a week ago, she left half her clothes here and filled one side of her suitcase with the sweetest mangos on the planet.

I am my way to visit Elizabeth Waidhira, one of the shop owners.

Elizabeth, a MYC4 borrower at her Mpesa shop.

Elizabeth, a MYC4 borrower at her Mpesa shop.

With me are Caroline from MYC4’s office and branch manager Ezekiel from Premier Kenya. Elizabeth specializes in m-pesa, pesa meaning payment in Swahili, mobile payment, which is huge in Kenya, the country being a first mover in mobile payment. You’ll see m-pesa shops everywhere, also here and close to Elizabeth’s shop where people come to put money in their account. Actually she’s surrounded by other m-pesa shops, and I ask her, if it isn’t bad for her business.

– No, she says. Quite the contrary. Competition is good. That way you’ve got to be on your toes, it brings more customers! And on her toes she is this woman in her late forties and the mother of two and grandmother of one. She mentions her grandchild first, when I ask her about children. Obviously she’s proud and happy to be a grandmother. Working hours are from 7.30 AM till 6 PM. She has two employees in the little shop which also offers typing, photo copies and passport photos. Everybody has one weekly day off.

– Like with all people my life is up and down, says Elizabeth, whose husband works in the meat industry. – My mission is customer satisfaction! That’s the most important thing. If my customers are happy, I’m happy. I would also like to expand, I need more space. That’s my biggest challenge along with the dust, the rain and the mud.

She is on her first loan with Premier Kenya. It’s for 150.000 Kenyan Shillings (app. 1500 Euro). She didn’t spend it on her shop but on home improvement, a fence to be exact. She repays 15,500 Kshs a month and will be done with it in a year but doesn’t know if she wants a second one. It depends on the circumstances, and she finds the interest too high. I ask her if she thinks that she has a good life.

– Yes, I’m happy, I try to remember the good days.

Elizabeth (MYC4 borrower), Caroline (MYC4 Communication Officer) and Ezekiel (Premier Kenya Kawangware Branch Manager)

Elizabeth (MYC4 borrower), Caroline (MYC4 Communication Officer) and Ezekiel (Premier Kenya Kawangware Branch Manager)

We say goodbye to Elizabeth, so that she can get back to business. Ezekiel, Caroline and I walk back through the dusty streets to Premier Kenya’s office. It’s an experience to be here in Kawangware – every time, so lively and full of friendly people. Maybe you should visit next time you’re in Nairobi? I guarantee you’ll neither regret nor forget it.

We pass one of the mobile mango vendors, and I decide to do like my wife did. Leave some clothes behind and bring a sweet and tasteful part of Kenya with me back home.

“Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. ” – Marian Wright Edelman.

Fountain Junior School, Kawangware.

Fountain Junior School, Kawangware.

Faith Kamande, the principal of Fountain Junior School in Kawangware is the perfect embodiment of this quote. She is an inspiring woman with a passion for education. I caught up with Faith during a busy school day and this is what she had to say:

How did you hear about MYC4?

I heard about MYC4 in 2014 through the Premier Kenya, my loan officer who explained to me how the loan works.

How has the MYC4 loan helped you?

It has helped me in running the school. I utilized quite a chunk of the money in doing repairs and the rest goes into operations such as wages.

IMAG0284 (2)

Fountain Junior Pupils during their break

What problem were you facing that MYC4 have helped you to solve since you received the funds?

I needed funds to facilitate the running of the school, I needed funds for equipment, food for the students, wages for teachers, repairs and the like.

What would you like people to know about MYC4?

The rates are fair.

MYC4 empowers people to achieve their targets. I am grateful to MYC4 and Premier Kenya for the opportunities they give entrepreneurs who may have a vision but need some support to achieve it.

Would you recommend MYC4 to your friends or family?

Yes, I would. I have enjoyed a good relationship with MYC4 and Premier Kenya.

Would you consider taking a second loan once you clear this loan?

Yes, I would. I have more plans do renovation and a vision to expand the school, preferably to larger premises with a larger field for co-curricular activities.

Do you have any additional comments?

Micro finance and loans help run and grow a lot of businesses. My school has grown from a small school and I plan to make it even larger. I think education is important, for all children. It opens up their minds and gives them opportunities they might not have gotten otherwise.

 

“When the history of African development is written, it will be clear that a turning point involved the empowerment of women.” – Sheryl Wudunn.

Several days ago I had the pleasure of meeting yet another mover and shaker in the micro finance industry. A man whose organization not only focuses on unshackling the community in the rural areas from poverty but also on empowering women in a patriarchal society. This inspiring man is none other than Adet Kachi, CEO of Yehu Microfinance Trust.

 

Adet Kachi, Yehu MFT CEO.

Adet Kachi, Yehu MFT CEO.

 

I had a one on one with Adet Kachi and this what he had to say;

Caroline: Hello Adet, tell me about Yehu Microfinance Trust.

Adet: Hello Caroline, well…

About Yehu Microfinance

Yehu logo

Yehu is predominantly rural based. It is a unique organization that has been brave enough to operate against challenges of poor infrastructure, low literacy levels and a poor economic environment of its clientele.

The organization is currently focused on serving the low income rural entrepreneurs and especially women within the Coastal region but eventually we plan to serve the ntire country.

In the rural areas, locals have challenges with accessing resources. It is not easy to access capital. There is the problem of inadequate infrastructure.

The community especially the women are marginalized and it is difficult to receive financial help. The Coast area is usually a patriarchal society and usually it is the men who hold economic leadership and dictate financial decisions.

This is where Yehu Microfinance Trust comes in. We seek to enhance their livelihoods and our vision is to take kenyans further than their circumstances allow them.

That sounds challenging, is it?

Well, we do experience some challenges. For instance some of our borrowers request small amounts of funds, but no matter the amount, we aim to deliver to our clients.

We go to the clients directly so you find our loan officers experience difficulties accessing the rural areas because of the underdeveloped infrastructure. They use all means necessary, be it bodabodas (motorcycles) or walking.

Additionally, at times some unavoidable circumstances, for instance terrorist attacks affect the clientele’s business directly and indirectly but with our support they manage to bounce back and avoid majority of the negative impact. It does have its challenges, but serving the people is an exciting and inspiring experience.

I am very much pleased with our contribution to society. Being able to empower people to live their destinies is an opportunity that not everyone is fortunate enough to achieve.

We are thankful when we are able to empower women. By empowering a woman, you add value to the household. Kofi Annan once said, “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”

How do you operate?

We are mostly in Coast province; Lamu, Voi, Mombasa and its environs. We have opened a new office in Makueni and we are moving to rural areas outside of Coast Province.

Yehu was created based on the principles and procedures of the world-renowned Grameen Bank and has adopted the Grameen Group Methodology.

There are policies in place to ensure that our clients continue smoothly with us. Yehu tries to establish very strong relationships with our clients.

All groups have assigned leaders and our loan officers support and guide these leader in managing their groups. We meet regularly with the group leaders for guidance and to hear any grievances and/or challenges they might be experiencing. We also conduct business training for our clients.

How is your partnership with MYC4?

We are pleased with our partnership with MYC4. Our clients are satisfied with the MYC4 loans they receive. We are  a team, when our clients have requests, we usually pass this on to our partner and we discuss and come with solutions that are favourable for all parties involved.

Conclusion

From my interview with Adet Kachi, I can tell he is a man of few words, but he makes the little he says count. It is also no secret that he is a well-respected,  highly experienced professional in his field. He is intelligent, resourceful, organized and passionate about empowering people, especially women.

This is great news for Kenyan women and the rural community in general. Yehu Microfinance Trust is destined for greatness because you can never go wrong when you take an active role in bringing positive change to the world.

 

 

 

 

MYC4 is pleased to announce that we received the first repayment on Premier Kenya’s wholesale loan, a whole week earlier than the due date and at the end of their six month grace period on principal.

In the 2nd Quarter of 2014, MYC4 announced the launch of its pilot of a new loan product;a wholesale product to complement the existing retail loans product.  It was a unique one being the first of its kind. The initial wholesale loan product was Euro denominated; thus transferring all currency risk to the micro finance institutions/ providers.

The loan product was to be well secured with collateral that included a Legal Pledge over the portfolio of the provider, Personal Guarantees by Directors and Debenture/ Legal mortgage over all the provider’s assets. MYC4 chose Premier Kenya Limited to pilot said product. The initial loan was 250,000 Euros at 8% interest, which was divided among investors and MYC4 at 50/50. The investor interest of 4% was considered attractive because investors would not suffer any currency loss, and there would be minimal default risk.

The Premier Kenya whole sale loan on the platform

The Premier Kenya whole sale loan on the platform

Premier Kenya used/is using this MYC4 wholesale loan to scale its retail, micro and small business client portfolio in Nairobi, specifically targeting SMEs and landlords who are providers of low cost housing. Premier focuses on SME and Group Lending with a particular focus on the provision of funds SME borrowers and to landlords that are providers of low-cost housing.

As the pilot was launched, Premier Kenya was working with Strathmore University to provide business skills training to its SME clients to enable them to enhance their businesses and ultimately borrow larger amounts for longer periods. Premier Kenya offers starting capital to persons with valid business ideas. These small and medium businesses are enabled to grow and hence the owners and employees are able to take care of their families.

MYC4 would like to have more of this hybrid lending where we can offer providers both retail loans and wholesale/ term loans. MYC4 wholesale loans empower small and medium business entrepreneurs who in turn create employment as well as boost the country’s economy which goes hand in hand with eradicating poverty.

Thanks to the pilot success of this great product, our investors can soon look forward to seeing and fundraising more of these wholesale loans on the platform.

Several days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a mover and shaker in the micro finance industry. It was quite an inspiring experience. Cyprian Kilonzo is the Managing Director and C.E.O of Jubilant Kenya Limited.

Cyprian Kilonzo

Cyprian Kilonzo Photo credit: http://www.magazinereel.com

Cyprian is a young and innovative entrepreneur, doing extremely well in his industry and is passionate about transforming lives. He has been featured in the Young Rich show, a local television program that  highlights young movers and shakers as well as appearing in an interview on NTV AM LIVE, a local television show. I had a one on one with Cyprian and this what he had to say.

Cyprian during the interview at JKL offices in Mombasa

Cyprian during the interview at Jubilant Kenya Ltd offices in Mombasa

Caroline: Hello Cyprian, please tell me more about yourself…

Cyprian: Hello Caroline. Well, my name is Cyprian Kilonzo. I am the Managing Director and C.E.O of Jubilant Kenya Limited. I am 33 years old. I have a bachelors degree in Banking and Finance from Mount Kenya University (MKU) and my biggest passion is transforming lives.

Positive Outlook

I believe in living a positive life and having a positive mindset. I urge young people and Kenyans at large to embrace positivity. Negativity and criticism does not bring about any positive developments and it definitely does not aid in the development of this country. I have created Jubilant Fellowship to help create positive thinking in the youth.

I am also part and parcel of Mount Kenya University’s Entrepreneurship Academy where I play the role of mentor to several students.

I am pleased that Jubilant has been able to create employment and I plan on starting more companies to create employment as well as to contribute to the industry.

Transforming Lives

My mentor John Mbugua once told me, “The moment you think about creating solutions for people, money will follow you.” Money is good, but I am not in this business for the money. I did not choose money, i chose to transform lives and create change. When I am under pressure or I have sleepless nights, I motivate myself by reminding myself of my vision to transform lives.

Humble beginnings

I come from a humble background, I grew up in Machakos. Before I got into MKU, I went to Kenya Polytechnic, I had not attained grades to get me into a public university at the time and I could not afford to join the parallel program or go to a private university. I had always wanted to impact lives and I used to go for missions and christian outreach. After campus, I worked with a few banks, starting my career at sales. Sales as most people know is not an easy job but I worked my way up the ladder. I learnt about micro finance while working at Faulu in Mombasa and I immediately developed a keen interest in it.

How Jubilant Kenya Limited came to be

I had planned to start an NGO to help the community and in December of 2011, Jubilee Kenya was founded. I had a vision to turn this organization into a micro finance that would give loans to the small and medium entrepreneurs, helping in the reduction of poverty and enabling people celebrate financial freedom. I presented this vision to key people in the industry who I wanted to back me on this journey.

As a young entrepreneur who was still new in the business, I encountered doubt and apprehension from quite a number of people. Some would have preferred a more qualified C.E.O. However, I would not be deterred from my vision and I asked critics and supporters alike to give me a year to prove myself.

My project came into fruition and Jubilant Kenya Limited was registered in May of 2012.

Growth of Jubilant Kenya Limited

We started with a payroll of Ksh, 77, 000, now we have a payroll of at least 1.2 million. We started with 5 clients and now we have over 5,000 clients.

We are looking to grow and expand even further. We want to help Kenyans celebrate financial freedom.

Jubilant Kenya is a reputable firm and has enjoyed positive publicity. In 2014, Jubilant Kenya Limited beat over 20 others in the highly competitive industry to emerge the winners of the Most Innovative Microfinance award organized by Citi Bank and the Association of the Microfinance Institutions (AMFI).

Most Innovative MFI - Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards 2014

Cyprian receives the Most Innovative MFI – Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards 2014

 

Partnership with MYC4

I am grateful for MYC4’s partnership, a lot of companies are afraid of investing in small companies, MYC4 is not one of them. It  believe in MYC4 and I am positive about their growth potential. It has been a fruitful partnership so far, our clients are pleased with MYC4 loans and we look forward to continue walking with MYC4 in this journey of transforming lives and empowering African entrepreneurs to realize their dreams.

Conclusion

From my talks with Cyprian he easily comes across as an innovative, ambitious, driven, reliable, altruistic gentleman. With such an impressive person in the driving seat, it is no wonder that Jubilant Kenya Limited has been able to achieve as much as it has.

Jubilant Kenya Limited is one of MYC4’s providers and we are proud to be associated with them.

Watch Cyprian’s interviews on local television here;

Young Rich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di6v_gLmDZU

NTV AM LIVE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GwwYCHIwY4

 

One step forward

Milango

We wrote about our provider Milango and the issues that were affecting their performance on the MYC4 platform here . This post seeks to update our investors on the positive development that has come about in the form of a start in recoveries from Milango.

Our previous interactions with the Provider had revealed that Milango was restructuring in order to build an efficient business. We were informed that they were reconciling shareholders to hasten the process of normalizing operations. They were also incorporating other shareholder functions into the board governance structure. To tie all these down, an Annual General Meeting (AGM) was scheduled for the last quarter of 2014 and a decision on a way forward was expected.

Furthermore, in their quest to normalize operations, shareholders had injected new capital into the business to ensure the survival and growth of the business in the future. These funds were to be directed towards disbursements. Since disbursement of loans bring about repayments, the provider appreciated that the sooner they resumed normal business operations, the faster the repayments would begin to trickle in.

Milango promised to endeavor to normalize operations on their end, repay MYC4 loans and continue with our partnership. The restructuring of shareholder functions, the AGM for decision-making on the best way forward and injection of capital into the company by shareholders for normal business operations were key interventions to count on.

We are pleased to inform our investors that we recently received repayments from Milango amounting to Ksh 3 million/28,735 Euros. This is a great start and we expect more repayments to come streaming in. We shall keep you posted with more updates and more information.

Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – these didn’t come out of nowhere – Paul Ryan.

I found Patrick Ngamaini’s story definitely worth knowing. Patrick is one of MYC4’s borrowers through our provider Premier Kenya. I met Patrick at his little shop in Kawangware and I must say I rather enjoyed my talks with this vivacious and ambitious businessman. It is clear to anyone who talks to Patrick that he has big dreams for himself and his business. He tells me that his small beginning is not a hindrance to his dreams but a motivation to attain financial freedom.

Patrick at his shop in Kawangware

Patrick at his shop in Kawangware

How did you hear about MYC4?

I heard about MYC4 in 2014 through the Premier Kenya, loan officer who came to explain to my investment group/chama how MYC4 works,

How has the MYC4 loan helped you?

The loan I received from MYC4 has helped  me acquire the funds I needed to run my business. I use the funds to buy my stock of consumer goods which i restock frequently because they are fast moving items.

What problem were you facing that MYC4 have helped you to solve since you received the funds?

One problem I was facing was the lack of ready and available capital to run my small business especially with the stringent borrower demands that large financial institutions have put in place. These requirements usually do not favour us small entrepreneurs. However, since I received my funds I have been able to effectively run my shop and fulfill my customers needs.

Have the funds you borrowed increased your profits or income, and have you employed anyone?

Since I received the funds my business has been running well and I have a fair source of income.. The funds have allowed me to continuously have stock and continuously make sales. In my business of selling consumer goods especially on a small scale as I am currently doing, the profits do not immediately reflect, but with continued sales, I will eventually have a tidy sum. Currently, I cannot afford to employ anyone but I hope to be able to soon.

What did you like about MYC4? What is the experience of working with MYC4?

The one thing I have liked in the short time I have worked with MYC4, is that the funds were received within my preferred time-frame and I did not have to wait for an overextended period. Additionally the interest rate is fair and the duration given to make repayments is reasonable.

What would you like people to know about MYC4?

I would like to let people know that MYC4 helps many men and women to boost their small businesses. Whether you are starting or already running a small business and you have little funds, do not be discouraged, MYC4 can help you make your business dreams a reality.

Would you recommend MYC4 to your friends or family?

Definitely. Other than my group members, I also know of some men and women here in Kawangware as well who are benefiting from MYC4 loans.

Would you consider taking a second loan once you clear this loan?
I would. I would like to grow my business even more and possibly relocate to a bigger space, stock more goods and  and eventually hire people to help with sales. If my business grows bigger, I would like to venture into other bigger, business industries such as real estate and transportation.

Do you have any additional comments?

I would like to thank MYC4 for the opportunity they give business people such as myself. MYC4 empowers us to grow and develop as people as well as business people and we urge you to continue supporting entrepreneurs. I would urge MYC4 to add more funds to trusted borrowers and to additionally finance investment groups as a whole.

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