Custom financial products and services meet the unique needs of Kenyan families. Core to Opportunity Kenya’s product strategy is to adopt both qualitative and quantitative methods of increasing its knowledge about the clients it serves, resulting in intentionally targeted products and services that anticipate and respond to changing needs. After conducting surveys to understand the evolving needs of Kenyan families, Opportunity Kenya modified the Trust Group loan product, reviewed the terms of the new Individual loan product and began crafting a tailored Agricultural loan product.
In 2011, Opportunity Kenya partnered with Habitat for Humanity to develop a home improvement loan to allow clients with a good credit history to make repairs to improve deteriorating and unsafe structures.
Expanding to increase outreach. In addition to plans to open three new offices in 2012, Opportunity Kenya intends to grow outreach by establishing service locations in unserved peri-urban areas as well as small field offices that can be manned by staff from nearby branches. The increased presence will help Opportunity Kenya increase outreach in poor communities, which will be further bolstered with technology like mobile phone banking and smart cards to deliver services affordably and efficiently.
Financial Literacy Training. New customer financial literacy training modules were launched in September 2011 at Opportunity Kenya’s five Nairobi-area branches. These new trainings were facilitated by the Kenya Institute of Business Training. Clients participated in a full-day session on business management and financial skills which was met with widespread positive feedback. Opportunity Kenya is also partnering with Citi Foundation to develop training DVDs covering personal and business growth topics.
Measurable Impact: Side by Side in Kenya
Opportunity Kenya currently serves clients via 12 branch locations. With hard work from the dedicated staff, Opportunity Kenya increased client outreach by 20% and maintained a client repayment rate of 98% despite a very challenging economic environment. Additionally, Opportunity Kenya maintains an encouraging client retention rate of 86%. Eager to continue reaching out to marginalized communities, the Kenya staff is making plans to add three additional offices in 2012.
Opportunity serves clients with four loan products customized to meet the unique need of Kenya’s hard-workingentrepreneurs:
Opportunity Kenya provides loans through Trust Groups. Loans come with credit-life insurance to provide asafety-net in case of tragedies that threaten to derail progress made. In response to growing demand, Kenya launched a pilot in 2011 to test Individual lending to meet the needs of entrepreneurs whose businesses are growing and require larger loans with more flexible repayment rates and customized training.
Plans for 2012 include:
Opportunity International’s global team has grown to over 11,501 employees, 99% of whom are nationals. Our 6,515 loan officers are at the heart of our work, offering support and counsel to every client. By providing exceptional training, Opportunity is equipping local, talented staff to become leaders in building the economies of their own communities
Moses Wandera is a native Kenyan who joined the Bungoma Branch of Opportunity International in September 2008. Moses grew up in rural Kenya, where his mother supported the family by selling granola bars and thus exposed Moses at a young age to the concept of entrepreneurship. The future loan officer graduated from Maseno University in Kenya with a Bachelor’s of Education in Home Science & Technology. Upon graduating, Moses worked in the Marketing and Sales department of one of the most successful publishers in Kenya, AAR Health and LONGHORN, for five years.
Capitalizing on his sales experience, Moses took a job with Barclay’s Kenya as a Direct Sales Representative supporting Development House and Queensway Branches in Nairobi. In 2008, Moses left the corporate world and joined the Bungoma Branch of Opportunity Kenya after learning about the organization on Facebook. Opportunity International appealed to Moses because the organization represented a global brand but relied on local support. In addition, Opportunity International targets the poor and Moses personally relates to the experiences and difficulties of being poor. Moses is one of three loan officers at the Bungoma Branch. Opportunity Kenya serves 7,500 clients and Moses’ branch manages the portfolios of 550 clients with a 70% retention rate. Moses personally handles 270 of these portfolios. Moses describes his favorite part of the job, “It feels really good to know that I help ensure that families have food on their table every single day.”
He attends the Pentecostal Assembies of God Church where he is involved as a mentor in a career advice program that guides and counsels youth. Moses is excited about providing leadership that brings positive change in economical, social and spiritual realms of society.
Opportunity Kenya currently serves 7,796 families with microloans and transformative training, a 6% increase from the end of 2010. It has been a year since Opportunity Kenya launched loan disbursements via cell phone banking, which brings clients increased convenience, flexibility and security. Opportunity Kenya began piloting loan repayments using cell phones at the Kawangware branch in Nairobi in June. This service aims to increase security by eliminating the need for clients and loan officers to carry cash to Trust Group meetings.
Recently in Nairobi, Opportunity International and The Financial Education Fund (FEF)–which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID)–are co-sponsoring a Financial Literacy Conference to explore how access to financial services can be facilitated and enhanced through financial education initiatives.
The Financial Literacy Conference opened with remarks from Professor Njuguna S. Ndunu’u, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, who emphasized that financial literacy not only strengthens markets but increases financial access to those living in poverty. He went on to say, “The drive toward a more financially literate Kenya and African continent requires a diverse group of actors.” As a FEF grant recipient, Opportunity has been piloting a variety of ways to develop and deliver financial education. Utilizing a multimedia approach, we’ve conducted in-country research and focus group discussions to create modules on the importance of debt management, savings and insurance.
-by Opportunity Intern Shannah McGuire
To read more about the Financial Literacy Conference and Opportunity's work visit http://www.opportunity.org/blog/financial-literacy-conference-kenya/.
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