Blockchain-Backed Twiga Could Seal Africa’s $331 Billion SMEs Lending Gap

The data from World Bank’s private lending subsidiary, International Finance Corp., small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa face a lending deficit of US$ 331. This figure could be bigger if the group is expanded to include micro-enterprises.

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Twiga staff and delivery vehicle

According to the Nairobi-based lender, 4G Capital, the demand for loans in the micro SMEs (MSMEs ) market in Kenya alone is a staggering US$ 6.5 billion annually.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has some way to go in building the financial infrastructure needed for MSMEs,” 4G Chief Executive Officer Wayne Hennessy-Barrett told Bloomberg.

The lender provides loans to small companies and startups in Kenya and Uganda. Over the next financial year, beginning July 1, the company expects to lend US$40 million the MSMEs, that is twice as much as the amount it lent out last year.

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Twiga staff picking produce from farmers

Informal sector traders in Africa have had a difficulty in accessing credit because it is difficult for banks to ascertain their creditworthiness. While this data is out there, it is has been difficult for banks to mine it and use it to derive credit scores. However, if the latest innovation by the Kenyan startup Twiga Foods Ltd is anything to go by, all these could change for the better.

Twiga app, developed by International Business Machines (IBM) Corp., allows small-scale greengrocers, commonly known in Kenya as Mama Mboga, to access loans to buy groceries directly from producers, and have them delivered to their stores by Twiga Foods. It is not only convenient but also cut transport expense while helping them build a credit track record.

Twiga earns its income by buying fresh produce from farmers and selling it to retailers. The app utilizes the blockchain technology to maintain its customers’ credit history.

Development economists have often alluded that the success of any business in Africa lies in its ability to penetrate the informal sector. This is why Equity Bank, Kenya’s largest bank by market capitalization, and Safaricom, Sub Saharan most profitable telcos, have done. They had a strategy for unbanked population, largely composed of the informal sector players.

With this app, Mama Mboga gets her orders and funding needs on her phone. The moment she makes her orders, the data is submitted for analysis. The data accumulates as she continues using the app. This information, if analyzed, can be used to create her spending patterns, demand for goods and services, and generate her credit history.

During the 8-week pilot program, Twiga backed by IBM, processed more than 220 loans for Mama Mbogas. The loans averaged at about Kshs. 3,000(US$30) each. Over the period, the retailer’s orders swelled by 30% and their profit margin increased by 6%. The duration of the loans ranged from four to eight days with interest rate between 1% to 2%.

The app is an attempt by IBM to address the lack of credit, which has been cited as one of the major hindrances of economic growth in Africa. It will be rolled out in other countries in the next face of the pilot program.

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Babushka, the new Paul Octopus?

If you followed the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South African, then you cannot forget the psychic cephalopod, Paul. Its name is undoubtedly anchored on the history of football and global tournament.

Based at Germany’s Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, it would correctly predict the outcome of Germany matches. It would be offered two boxes containing food, and different flags on the outside. One box would have the German flag and the other box their opponent’s flag. It correctly predicted all the seven German’s game, including the loss to Spain in the final.

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Paul predicting the outcome of the 2010 FIFA Cup Final Match.

Could this woman be the new Octopus? The woman predicted Portugal versus  Spain match. She is called Babushka, a devout Catholic. She has predicted the German vs Mexico and Brazil vs Switzerland. According to her, the Swiss are very serious people.

Babushka is working with Sofascore in predicting the outcomes of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

About Sofascore

This a website that offers the live coverage of sports events. It has coverage from more than 500 worldwide soccer leagues, cups and tournaments with live updated results, statistics, league tables, video highlights, fixtures and live streaming. What’s more, it has a mobile app for the mobile platforms

Corruption and Impunity at the Altar

Introduction

Last week, I talked about self-reflection and discovering who we are. I spent my time trying to convince us why we needed to self-reflect as we grapple with the corruption epidemic. My intention was to inspire each one of us to stop blaming others and own up to our problems.

This week, I want us to look at our religion and the role it has played in our current predicament. I don’t want us to wade into the debate out there on the sense of religion; as Kenyans, we can’t fail to recognize its impact on our lives. Religion is an important pillar of our society. It controls virtually all aspects of our lives, from economics to politics. And globally, it is the underlying rock of human conduct, behaviour, and social sense.

If you may ask me, Kenyans are very religious people. On Sundays, our churches are filled to the last man. It is a day of the week that is a testimony that the Kenyan people remember the biblical ten commandments. The third commandment says; remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (Exodus 20: 8 -11). We may remember to observe the Sabbath, but I’ll leave you to decide as to whether we keep it holy.

I’ve written this article to highlight the relationship between religion and morality, and compare that to the situation in our country, Kenya. What is the relationship between morality and religion? What role is religion playing in shaping our character? What does research say about religion, morals and economic development? All these questions are what we seek to answer. I want us to reflect our religious group and the role they have played in the rise of corruption and impunity in our country. In the end, I’ll justify the failure of the Kenyan religious groups in playing their part in the fight against corruption and impunity.

I welcome you to interact with me through my Twitter handle and Facebook page. I would like to hear your story too, and if you wish, I can publish it on my blog too. Let’s talk

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What’s religion, and how is it related to morality?

There’s no universally accepted definition of religion. Many people have tried to define it, but I find George Galloway’s definition a little satisfying.

“Man’s faith in a power beyond himself whereby he seeks to satisfy his emotional needs and gains stability of life, and which he expresses in acts of worship and service.” – (The Philosophy of Religion, p 184)

Religion is a set of spiritual beliefs, dogmas and practices agreed upon by a group of people as a relationship between them and a superhuman being, sacred or divinity (usually their god). It is a system of faith and worship.

Morals are universal principles of conduct endemic to mankind, while morality is the degree of adherence to these codes.

Religion and morality are closely related, but neither can wholly justify another. In law, we describe what is immoral as illegal, while the same is a sin in religion and a matter of convention in public opinion.

The scope of morality is so diverse that the enforcing body decides the classification of the conduct. Not all sins are illegal, and not all illegalities are sins. Also, what may be a sin in one religious doctrine, may be just fine in another doctrine. Just the same way, what may be illegal in one jurisdiction may not be illegal in another jurisdiction. Religion and law clash all the time. Continue reading “Corruption and Impunity at the Altar”

Five Reasons why Betin is the better option

I’m an avid soccer fan; a religious follower of the gunners, Arsenal FC. I also bet on soccer matches, and I find Betin Kenya so satisfying than the other betting sites. So today I want to share with you why I choose Betin over the rest.

1. High Number of Matches

June and July is usually the off-season of European football as the major European leagues break. However, it doesn’t mean that there are no games. We have the local leagues, as well as the South American and Asian leagues. Betin offers you a huge number of matches. If you miss a game at Betin, then chances are you won’t find it anywhere else.

2. High Number of Options

Betin Kenya has over 100 betting options, from goal scorers to time of goals. It provides you with a variety of options that would help you manage the games that you are not able to foretell a specific outcome. With these options, you lower your risk of losing. Continue reading “Five Reasons why Betin is the better option”

Break Up The Tech Giants

It is time to call the tech companies to account. In the space of just ten years, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft have become the biggest companies on the planet and have accrued a level of power that threatens us all. They control our data, warp our democratic discourse, and exert increasing dominance over our markets. No wonder we are in the middle of a long-awaited ‘techlash’ against the technology giants.

Look at the EU’s recent crackdown on tax avoidance by Amazon and Apple, or its record €2.4 billion fine of Google. In the UK, the Committee on Standards in Public Life has just set out guidelines for prosecuting web giants such as Facebook, arguing that they are publishers, not mere ‘platforms’, and therefore responsible for the content they host.

Through the influence of ‘network effects’ (whereby the first to dominate a market reaps almost all the rewards), these companies have snuffed out the competition. This matters to everyone – not simply for the sake of healthy markets, but for the democratic wellbeing of all of us. The power of these companies lies not just in their size, but in the 21st century’s most valuable asset, data, the oil of the digital economy, which the tech companies extract freely from us, the users. Continue reading “Break Up The Tech Giants”

Why Kenyans are all smiles as the fight rages on

Did you ever imagine you could one day buy 1 Gigabyte of data at Ksh. 100? If it beats your imagination, then what about 2 Gigabytes at the same price, and free calls, SMS and WhatsApp?

In Swahili they say, vita vya panzi, furaha ya kunguru, or better still tembo mbili wakipigana huumia nyasi. The first proverb loosely translates to whenever grasshoppers fight, it is the crow that benefits. The second proverb alludes that when two elephants, it is the grass that suffers.MEREUSE-TELKOM

The price war between Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, and Airtel is giving us, Kenyans, every reason to smile. While Safaricom has been raking on profits, its data has Continue reading “Why Kenyans are all smiles as the fight rages on”

Corruption is a Cancer of Our Moral Fabric

Corruption is the greatest impediment to our country’s competitiveness. Public officers demand ‘facilitation fee’ to execute the duties we employ them to do, and well-connected Kenyans evade taxes, and, through the rampant procurement fraud, when they inflate the cost of goods or services they offer when doing business with the government. Corruption increases the cost of doing business, which reduces foreign investment and impacts negatively our balance of trade.

It is not that we don’t have laws to deal with the evils. Corruption, abuse of office, active and passive bribery, and bribing a foreign public official are criminal. Our laws, through the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act 2003, and the Bribery Act of 2016, deals with any form of corruption and economic crime.

It is not that we don’t know the perpetrators. The government IFMIS system is able to identify who ordered the payments and who was paid and after supplying what or delivering what services.

Neither is it that we don’t have a competitive judiciary. On the contrary, we’ve got a robust Judiciary, led by Justice David Maraga, that made a landmark ruling on the Aug 8 Presidential Election. This ruling that annulled president Kenyatta’s win was a first of its kind in Africa. The judges in the Judiciaries went through vigorous vetting that no any other institution has been passed through. There may be a few judges who are unscrupulous, but it is fair to say we’ve got a fairly competent judiciary.

Yet no meaningful prosecution has been made. You may ask, “where is the problem?”
You need to look no further for your answer than the mirror. Like the Russian Writer Leo Tolstoy once said, Continue reading “Corruption is a Cancer of Our Moral Fabric”