Boost for small businesses eyeing County tenders as Kilifi County launches fund partnership

Small business people eyeing County tenders in Kilifi County have got a boost after Governor Gideon Mung’aro’s administration partnered with local banks to finance them.

Mung’aro said that through the Wezesha Fund, the county has partnered with Kenya Commercial Bank and Rafiki Micro Finance Bank to lend business people money for county projects at reasonable interest rates.

The move is aimed at helping youth, women and various groups within the county to be able to finance tenders that they win.

“Our people have had difficulties in accessing or raising capital to finance projects they get from the county government and other players but with the Wezesha Fund, we will be able to disburse credit facilities to them at affordable rates, so people who have been saying that they have won tenders but do not have money to implement the projects should wipe out their fears,” he said during the launch of the Fund partnership at his official residence in Kilifi town.

The County has deposited KES 200 million for the 2023- 2024 financial year to the two banks which will enable local business people to have a pool of Sh. 1 billion shillings to borrow from.

“With the financial institution partnership, we will have the capacity to loan up to Sh. 1 billion as they march every shilling with Sh. 5 shillings. We have ensured that the loans are completely interest-free with beneficiaries only paying a one-off four percent management fee,” he said.

The fund will be accessed from the ward level where the county officials and community representatives will be used to vet would-be beneficiaries with Mung’aro adding that those who win tenders will automatically qualify for the fund so long as they have accounts with either KCB and Rafiki Micro Finance.

“I want to tell my people that if they wanted to do work for the county government and your problem was funding, get your tender and go to Wezesha fund and you will get the money. The fund is not only limited to county projects but also private businesses so long as they have an account with the two banks,” he added.

The banks will also train beneficiaries on financial management during the loaning period.

Mung’aro reiterated that one of his plans was to promote local business people and that is why he renamed the fund from the previously known name, Mbegu Fund to Wezesha Fund so that residents do not portray the fund as a grant.

His predecessor who is also the current Senate Speaker Amason Kingi started the Mbegu Fund in 2015 and by the end of his second term, he had disbursed KES 320 million.

“Since the inception of the fund which was by then known as Mbegu Fund, KES 320 million has been disbursed to 2229 groups and 32 cooperatives and we changed the name from Mbegu Fund to Wezesha Fund since residents confused Mbegu Fund with the maize seeds that we distribute free of charge,” Mung’aro said.

The KCB country Managing Director Anastacia Kimutai said that her institution will offer financial training for beneficiaries to enable them invest their money diligently.

“We offer financial access and training. I, therefore, welcome all SMEs within Kilifi County who will enroll in the Wezesha program to take advantage of this offering so that we can scale our dream,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Rafiki Microfinance bank Manager for the Mtwapa branch Samuel Mburu who said that the bank will help beneficiaries of the fund to grow their business.

“The intention is to make sure that the trader in Kilifi County, does not actually end up suffering and business sipping out of Kilifi County but the business is able to circulate within Kilifi County and our traders are able to move from one level. We want to see micro traders moving to become SMEs to MSEMs and if it is possible we want to see corporates sprouting out of Kilifi County,” he said.

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