BY Sadik Hassan
Mombasa residents have hailed the Uwezo fund for improving their livelihoods through the provision of interest-free loans.
Anne Kahuya, a Person with a Disability (PWD) and a member of Tunaweza PWD Group, said through loans from Uwezo they were able to create employment for members through business expansion.
“We got a loan in 2018, rented a shop, and bought sewing machines. You won’t get PWDs begging on the roads,” said Kahuya adding that through the sewing machines members were taught tailoring.
She urged persons with disabilities to form groups and apply for the Uwezo fund because it is interest-free instead of begging while there is a government fund to start businesses
Thima Mwinyi, a member of Golden Mothers from Jomvu constituency said their group was formed by young mothers as a merry-go-round group. They first took a loan of Sh100,000 and invested in events equipment for hire.
They later took a loan of Sh300, 000 shared part of it among members to start small businesses. Mwinyi encouraged beneficiaries of Uwezo to hasten the repayment of loans for other groups to also benefit.
Khamis Karisa, Chairman of Mombasa Whatsapp Youth Group urged youths to take up the loans to create businesses instead of lamenting on lack of job opportunities. The group purchased a Tuk-Tuk to generate income.
Richard Ruoti a Youth Officer said the fund has been in existence for close to eight years now. Officers from the fund traverse all the six constituencies in Mombasa to sensitize youths on the fund application.
“The lowest amount a group can get is Sh50, 000 but if a proposal is well written they can get up to Sh100, 000 as first loan. The loanees are given a six-month grace period, repayment is after 24 months,” said Ruoti.
He added that the Uwezo fund doesn’t have an application fee, or processing fee and is interest-free.
“It’s a fund aimed to uplift groups to be self-sustainable. It’s a bottom-up economic enhancement programme aimed to uplift people at the bottom of the pyramid,” said Ruoti.
Ruoti noted that although some groups have challenges in repayment of disbursed loans, he encourages them to repay the loans for other groups to benefit.
Since its inception, Uwezo Fund has disbursed more than Sh7.2 billion and directly supported 1,124,221 beneficiaries in the area, with 69 percent being female and 31 percent male through the provision of affordable and accessible credit, capacity building on entrepreneurship skills, basics on bookkeeping and market linkages and networking.
The absorption rate in the local constituencies stands at 107.5 percent with Sh1.5 billion having been revolved. More than 125 million cumulatively has been disbursed to groups in Nyali, Mvita, Kisauni, Jomvu, Changamwe, and Likoni in Mombasa County.