n May 2017, I had the honour of being on a fascinating Euromoney panel about expanding the digital financial ecosystem. One of the many topics that we discussed was the dearth of debt financing available for fintechs and start-ups limiting the potential for scale.
Banking remains the largest sub-sector by assets and the most systemically significant in Kenya’s financial services sector. Developments, especially those enabled by technology, have brought a sizeable number of new, mostly poorer and vulnerable first-time consumers into the market.
Africa’s population is growing faster than anywhere else in the world. More than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Africa and of the additional 2.4 billion people projected to be added to the global population between now and 2050, 1.3 billion will be in Africa.
Our first blog in this series discussed the Hunger Safety Net Programme and savings groups (SGs), for which we’ve also sought to use market based approaches. Part Two, discusses the use of a market based approach in graduation programmes.
The impact of the recent six-month drought is readily apparent. The earth is dry and cracked and most of the trees and shrubs are barren. Riverbeds are full of dried branches and the livestock that roam the area are but skeletons, with many dead along the road.
Across Africa, entrepreneurs and business leaders are increasingly aware that hiring top talent is critical to winning in the marketplace. In Kenya especially, technology-driven financial services companies (“fintechs”) struggle to recruit efficiently and effectively: when they post a job opening, they are often inundated with a high volume of applications and selecting candidates feels like a subjective process prone to bias and inconsistency.
Pauline Kimari is a pharmacist in Ndaragwa, Kenya, a small town several hours’ drive north of Nairobi. She moved there from rural Muranga, several hours away, to open a small shop, Ndaragwa Joy Chemist. It is white with blue and green doors and a blue bench inside. She sells medicine and cosmetics.
Market facilitation can (and does) work
Kenya is a good place to start when considering market facilitation. It is the poster child of financial inclusion, with access to formal finance growing dramatically from 27 percent in 2006 to 75 percent in 2016.
In an effort to understand the real needs of the people, our seventh ‘Field Friday’ exercise took us to Karagita in Naivasha. We set out to gather insights on which financial services people use and which ones they trust most.
Our work on the Kenya Financial Diaries made it painfully clear to us that school fees are incredibly expensive for low income families. The lowest end public schools often ask about KSh 20,000 per year for a single student, when rural household incomes often average around KSh 6,000 per month.
I spent a week in Kenya, courtesy of Financial Sector Deepening, an initiative of a number of aid agencies, including Britain’s Department for International Development, the Swedish government, and the Gates Foundation.
Last year, I sat huddled with Esther in the back of her dark market stall. The walls were lined floor to ceiling with second hand bras for sale, leaving only a small space for us to sit and chat. Esther was coming through a rough few years. Her husband unexpectedly and quickly died from meningitis.
During his visit for the FSD Kenya 3rd annual lecture, John Kay visited Haki Group, a Self Help Group registered in 2002 but graduated to a Community Based Organization in 2005 to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS in Kibera.
Over the past 10 years, FSD Kenya has worked to support the development of financial inclusion in Kenya. In 2015, we launched a series of annual public lectures on financial inclusion. Our aim is to stimulate debate on this subject and its place in the long-term vision for the financial sector in Kenya.
Just what is finance for?
On Wednesday 8th February 2017, John Kay met with 18 financial sector industry leaders to discuss this question and the future of finance in Kenya.
As we trudged through Kivani Secondary School’s third term student attendance records, one absenteeism after another greeted us. Per our analysis in preparation for Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with selected parents and guardians at the school, the average student missed about 13% of class time. I didn’t give it much thought then.
This year, the price of a kilo of tea reached a five-year high. Every October, tea farmers in Kenya receive a “tea bonus”; the second lump sum payment for tea delivered to the Kenya Tea Development Authority (KTDA) during the year. The first lump sum, the “mini bonus”, is paid each April.