Treasury CS Ndung’u dodges revealing his Hustler Fund loan limit
Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Professor Njuguna Ndung’u revealed he borrows from the Hustler Fund, a fund that was formed by the Kenya Kwanza government to empower those mostly working in the informal sector.
Speaking on Spice FM’s The Situation Room show, Professor Ndung’u revealed the Hustler Fund is one of the interventions by the government to help those facing financial devastation and to stop the culture of fuliza– a financial operating system introduced by telecommunication company Safaricom where customers can pay for goods on credit then repay the loan at higher rates.
“Not because the Fuliza is bad but of course because it was putting them (customers) into bondage, of course shylocks and all that. We wanted them to move away from that bondage. It is working. We are now celebrating one year since the Hustler Fund was launched… I also borrow from Hustler Fund, not because I need the money but just to see that it is working. It is an intervention,” said CS Ndung’u.
When asked what his Hustler Fund limit is following his revelation, he dodged the question, saying that since it was a public conversation, he couldn’t reveal the limit figure. The hosts revealed that their limits are Sh 500 in the same breath.
“No, no, no…its because it has been doubled several times because I keep borrowing. I borrow this week and I pay the next week. I’m having savings,” added CS Ndung’u.
He also claimed Hustler Fund is “doing wonders” for those using it.
President William Ruto campaigned on a promise to uplift the lives of hustlers, adopting the slogan “bottom up”. Upon ascension to office, the Hustler Fund became one of his key projects and it was officially launched in November 2022.
“We are establishing a culture of saving, investment, and social security. We are keen on creating opportunities for millions of people at the base of the wealth pyramid,” said President Ruto last year.
The fund, a personal loan product, was created to enable borrowers to access up to Sh 50,000 at an annual rate of 8% but many users complain their limits have stagnated at Sh 500 since being officially launched.
In the 2023/2024 budget, Sh 10 billion was allocated to the Hustler Fund, with CS Ndung’u saying it would go to support entrepreneur efforts.
“So far, Sh30.8 billion has been borrowed from the fund. In addition to borrowing, the fund is designed to encourage savings. Today Sh1.5 billion has been saved as mandatory savings while Sh17 million has been saved on a voluntary basis,” said CS Ndung’u in June 2023.
However, despite the disbursement of funds, borrowers are not paying back the loans within the stipulated time. By August 2023, Sh 3 billion had not been repaid by loan defaulters, forcing President Ruto to downplay the issue.
“We have so far lent Sh35 billion, so if only Sh3 billion has not been repaid is that a problem?” asked President Ruto during a past foray into Rift Valley region.
He also said the government had no intention of pursuing the personal loan defaulters.
In addition to personal loans, the Hustler Fund also provides the Hustler Group Loan, micro business loans, SME and start-up loans.