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Kenya

Future of Kenya’s digital lending is limitless system

Okolea now has about 90,000 customers and does about 50,000 transactions a month with a repayment rate of 92 per cent.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 23- You have not known pain until you have a negative rating on the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).

Once lenders find out you are listed for the wrong reasons, they run for the hills, don’t pick calls and ignore your messages.

Simply, you will never get a loan from any lender.

“I really had a great business idea, and went to my banker, since I had a salaried loan I wanted to top up and get the cash to begin my business. I was shocked to find out that I have been listed on the CRB, as my bank explained that I was listed and hence couldn’t access cash. I have no idea how I got there,” said Victor Wambua, a Nairobi resident.

For Michelle Njeri, her big mistake was to default on her loan after she lost her job, and couldn’t afford to pay it.

“Sometimes it’s not that you don’t want to pay the loan. It’s circumstances that force you. Should you be judged by the circumstances?” she pondered.

The negative listing has blocked so many people from getting access to loans even when they badly need them.

“Why should anyone be denied loans just because they had a bad past? This is why I formed Okolea International, a digital lending firm that doesn’t discriminate regardless of your financial background,” said Okolea International Founder and Chief Executive Peter Muraya.

Muraya who formed the firm in 2016 calls the current lending model ‘lazy.’

“I call it a lazy system because it is not aligned with the needs of the consumer. It is simply a model created by corporates to protect their bottom line, but it doesn’t serve the customer. Why would someone earning Sh100,000 only have a limit to borrow Sh3,000 on a digital lending app?” he questioned.

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According to Muraya the future of digital lending is a limitless system that is more customer-centric.

“Going forward we need to move away from a limit based system and get into a new era of customer-based system.

Firms need to invest in systems that are able to assess customers and give them the credit they deserve according to their needs,” he said.

Okolea now has about 90,000 customers and does about 50,000 transactions a month with a repayment rate of 92 per cent.

Okolea is part of over 20 mobile lending firms in the country with others including Branch, Saidia, KCB M-PESA, Mshwari, Haraka, Kiva, Kopa Chapa, Pesa Pata and Pesa Na Pesa among others.

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