NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Just five months after the Kenya Women Finance Trust was granted a license to carry out nationwide deposit-taking, the microfinance institution says it is looking to install its own Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country.
KWFT Managing Director Mwangi Githaiga said on Wednesday that this was part of the solutions they are coming up with to increase access to financial services for their over 330,000 clients.
He disclosed that they also plan to open up more countrywide branches in a bid to reach and empower women who are excluded from the formal financially system.
“In the next two months, we are going to set up our own ATMs mainly in the deposit-taking branches that we are opening in areas where they are critical numbers,” he said.
This, he added, would be a gradual process that would see them have many ATMs covering most of their 205 offices across the country in the next two to three years.
The license issued by the Central Bank of Kenya in April made it possible for the institution – which mainly targets women in the low income bracket – to transform itself and diversify its products range savings and loan products.
Since inception in 1981, KWFT has become a self-sufficient institution which in 2009 disbursed Sh146 billion and closed the year with a loan book of Sh11 billion.
Mr Githaiga spoke when KWFT signed an agreement with Kenswitch that will enable its customers to access the network’s 800 ATMs for cash and other banking services across the region.
KWFT becomes the 31st financial institution that has joined the Kenswitch network which was set up as part of the National Payment System and which now serves three million cardholders.
The network’s MD George Wainaina since their establishment in 2002, there has been a transformation of the payment industry which has roped in members outside the traditional commercial banks.
“The continued quest for shared infrastructure to reduce operational costs is rapidly turning into reality with micro finance institutions now connecting to Kenswitch,” Mr Wainaina said.
He however pointed to the need by the government to leverage on the innovation in the ICT sector to improve the system; lower transaction costs that are a hindrance to most people and make Kenya a regional hub.
But while this is being considered, the MD said they would continue to seek partnerships to exploit existing infrastructure for improved customer delivery.