Kenyans can now borrow money from the Hustlers Fund using the short code *254# on Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom networks after its official unveiling by President William Ruto on Wednesday.
After dialling the short code, you will be required to insert your ID and pin number before selecting the loan that best suits you.
Personal loans being offered on the Fund are between Sh500 and Sh50,000, with the repayment period being 14 days.
The interest rate on the loan is eight per cent annually.
“The Hustlers Fund will give every hustler a second chance. Unlike other loan schemes, the Hustlers Fund will not require [lengthy] application [processes], just your mobile phone,” said President Ruto during the launch at the Greenpark Terminus in Nairobi.
He added: “The interest rate for the Hustler Fund will be 500 times cheaper than the average lender in the market.”
The Fund is dedicated to the capitalisation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises through chamas, saccos and cooperatives.
“Those with micro-enterprises will get loans between Sh50,000 and Sh500,000,” said President Ruto.
He, however, noted that the launch for micro-loans between Sh100,000 and Sh50 million will be done in February 2023.
The president also spoke about the savings scheme available on the Hustlers Fund.
“If you save Sh500 in a month, which translates to Sh6,000 a year, the government will add you Sh3,000,” he said.
The mutation of the fund has been met with sharp criticism, with some quarters terming it a “government Fuliza” in reference to the popular overdraft facility, Fuliza, through which Kenyans borrow Sh1.6 billion daily on their phones.
Economist Mohamed Wehliye said the fund’s loan limit is too small, yet it is meant to be a capital loan to start or expand businesses.
“You cannot borrow from the Hustler Fund on a daily basis like you borrow from Fuliza. In my opinion, a maximum ticket of Sh50,000 for hustlers and hustler micro, small and medium enterprises for loan capital is, therefore, too small to make an impact,” said Mr Wehliye.
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition politicians have also derided the fund.
National Assembly Minority Whip and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed termed the fund a complete hoax, saying hustlers were hoodwinked to believe the fund was a zero-interest and non-refundable fund to start their businesses, but now it is actually a loan at an interest rate of eight per cent.