Wesida backs Kenyan firms.

Author:Onyango, Brian
Position:Western Industrial Development Agency

A Kenyan non-governmental organisation is now offering small-scale entrepreneurs hope and a chance to succeed by providing them with loans on easy terms at reasonable interest rates.

The Western Industrial Development Agency (Wesida), set up about five years ago, appears destined to break the monopoly of the established lending institutions by providing loans to small-scale businesses without any security at all - something which most small businesses have come to appreciate after failing to obtain loans from banks.

Many small-scale entrepreneurs, unable to secure bank loans because they lacked sufficient collateral, have turned instead to street shylocks for loans and have ended up paying more in interest than they had borrowed in the first place.

But Wesida is putting these unscrupulous street moneylenders out of business. The agency has already helped 980 Kenyans to expand their businesses with loans totalling Ksh40m (now 635,000).

Wesida operates somewhat like a savings and credit co-operative. It has about 1,000 members across the country but is concentrated mostly in Nairobi and in Western Kenya. There are few restrictions on membership; even big-time businessmen could become members if they chose to. Members pay Ksh420 and Ksh540 for technical and professional services. In return, they enjoy the services of the agency, which include financial assistance, training in business skills, business advisory services, promotion of...

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