NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19-Faulu Microfinance Bank is boosting its presence in the counties by increasing support to small enterprises to play a bigger role in key sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, trade, tourism, and real estate.
This will see the bank lend more than Sh1 billion to farmers, traders, contractors, manufacturers, and property developers in Nakuru, Nyandarua, and Laikipia counties, three of the fastest-growing business and economic hubs in Kenya’s rift valley region.
Speaking during the Bank’s new branch in Nakuru Town, Faulu Bank Chief Eexecutive Officer Apollo Njoroge said the institution is implementing a Sh3 billion package targeting small enterprises over the next three years.
“Faulu is keen on strengthening its play in the counties, where the economic action is taking place, by providing much needed financial support to improve the capacity of small enterprises to take advantage of unfolding trade opportunities at the devolved level,” said Njoroge.
He explained that Nakuru’s status as a major transit town along the busy Mombasa-Nairobi-Malaba highway linking Kenya to the greater East Africa region, positions it to expand into a prime regional commercial hub serving the central rift and western parts of the country.
Faulu is offering trade and asset financing to growing businesses in the county, involved in value addition activities in agro-processing, manufacturing, horticulture, dairy and housing.
The trade finance products include Local Purchase Order (LPO) and Local Service Order (LSO) financing, invoice discounting, supply chain financing, tender/bid bonds, advance payment guarantee, retention bond, payment guarantees and customs bonds.
The Bank will also provide crop insurance to farmers through its bancassurance agency.
The Nakuru branch was recently consolidated with the Njoro marketing office as the Bank seeks to re-engage with its clientele by creating operational synergies while leveraging alternate channels like mobile banking in line with emerging market trends and customer dynamics.
The Bank, which has over 500,000 customers across the country, including individuals and groups, is also targeting individuals and households in the areas with a variety of personal finance products. This includes the large population of teachers, civils servants, and employees of county governments.
Faulu has also partnered with Kenya Seed Company to help farmers purchase seeds. Nakuru is considered one of the country’s breadbaskets due to its high agricultural output especially maize, wheat, and potato production.
The county is among the largest and wealthiest in Kenya, accounting for 6.1 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, according to the World Bank. Nakuru is set to become the fourth city after Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu after the Senate approved a plan to elevate its status in June this year.
Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui said the county is keen on partnering with businesses to advance the economic and social development agenda.
“Nakuru County is open to business. This move by Faulu Bank symbolizes the strong partnership between the county government and private sector in creating real economic opportunities for our people,” said the governor.
Faulu has also officially opened a branch in Nyahururu town which it has upgraded from a marketing office in order to position itself strongly in Laikipia County, ranked by the Kenya Institute of Public Policy, Research, and Analysis (KIPRRA), among the top five counties in terms of creating a conducive business environment for SMEs.
Laikipia County Governor Ndiritu Muriithi hailed the decision by Faulu as an endorsement of the county to investors.
“I am pleased to note that Faulu Bank will be increasing its support to local businesses. The Laikipia county government is ready to work closely with financial services providers to deepen commerce as we transform the local economy.”
“Our growth strategy is focused on addressing the unique financial needs of small businesses forming the bulk of our customer base. The Bank’s capital injection resources shall sustainably support and accelerate our business objectives,” explained Njoroge.
Apart from financing, Faulu is also training its SME customers on how to grow their businesses and strengthen financial risk management.