Category Archives: SME solutions

Credit Cards Moment: AmEx and MasterCard take on Visa in Kenya

Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) statistics from the first quarter of 2018 show that there are 120,000 locally issued credit cards and 18 million debit cards/ ATM cards. With interesting patterns of credit cards usage over the last few years, for various reasons, there are some new entrants out to take on ubiquitous Visa-branded cards in Kenya.

MasterCard: GT Bank Kenya is rolling out a series of World MasterCard credit cards. The Gold and Platinum cards come with perks of travel and rewards including international airport lounge access, complimentary nights at 175 Starwood Hotels, luxury apartment discounts and Hertz Gold Plus car rentals along with enhanced insurance benefits that are easy to claim and a 24/7 concierge who offers personalized travel services. There are also tailored dining offers for Diani, Kisumu, Malindi, Mombasa, Nairobi. Ukunda and Watamu as well as towns in Nigeria.

Previously, one of the most-popular MasterCards on the market was the prepaid global card by Nakumatt that was supplied by KCB and Diamond Trust banks. They have been inactive since early this year following Nakumatt’s difficulties that started before the supermarket chain went under voluntary administration.

American Express: Also, Equity Bank and American Express have just extended their 2013 partnership. The bank which issues the American Express Green Card and Gold Card is the sole issuers of the globally accepted American Express cards in East Africa. With the signing of a now exclusive merchant acquisition agreement, Equity will be the sole merchant acquirer of American Express card transactions and will manage all aspects of merchant relationships including acquisition, statements, and marketing. Equity Bank earned Kshs 278 million in AmEx commissions last year, a 54% increase from 2016. The Bank also issues Union Pay, Diners, and JCB cards in addition to Visa and MasterCard.

Interest rates debate as caps repeal is proposed

Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has signaled an end to interest rates capping, saying the interest rate controls have contributed to a slowdown in credit growth to the private sector and denied small businesses’ access to credit.

In his FY 2018/2019 $30.4 billion budget speech to the National Assembly on June 14, Rotich said the interest capping law had not had the intended effect but instead resulted in banks shying away from lending to riskier borrowers such as ordinary businesses and individuals who used to borrow at rates above the 14% that was set through an amendment of the banking law that was passed a year and a half ago.

Rotich observed that he would ask parliament to repeal section 33 (b) of the Act to enable banks to provide more credit to riskier borrowers. He added that the government was also proposing a credit guarantee scheme for micro, small, and medium enterprises, and new credit institutions through the creation of the Kenya Development Bank and Biashara Kenya Fund and other new laws to help protect consumers of financial products.

The interest rates debate continues next week with a session on Monday, June 18 at the Strathmore Business School that will facilitate debate on the impact of the interest rates ceiling and floor.

Organized by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and Fanaka Digital, among other partners, the televised session will feature perspectives from the Treasury Cabinet Secretary, MP’s Jude Njomo – who sponsored the 2016 banking amendment that capped interest rates, and Moses Kuria, who is a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Draft banking conduct and consumer finance laws in Kenya

In a move that may weed out practices that led to the introduction of interest rate capping, the Kenya government has developed a draft Financial Markets Conduct Bill for consumer finance protection.

Some clauses in the bill of interest:

  • Advertising: A person without a financial conduct license cannot put out an advertisement for the provision of credit. This also applies to building owners (billboards?), or in newspapers, magazines, radio, television.  Also, lender advertisements must be truthful. They cannot be misleading by deception.
  • Credit Limits – cards/overdrafts: Once a credit limit is approved, a financier can’t reduce the credit limits or decline to replace a lost credit card
  • Credit ReferenceNo release of  credit reports to unauthorized people
  • In-Duplum: There is also roundabout way of reintroducing the in-duplum rule. There is a clause that if a loan goes into default, the interest, fees, and other charges to be repaid cannot exceed the balance of the loan on the day it went into default.
  • Insurance: Loans cannot require a borrower to get insurance from a specific company.  
  • GuarantorsThe new laws protect guarantors and requires that they be made aware of all clauses in loan contract before they give guarantees, and with no variation to guarantor terms allowed. This is probably inspired by one guarantor and default dispute involving a cousin of the President that has seen over a dozen cases litigated in several courts over 25 years.
  • Pre-Receivership Management:  The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)  can appoint a person to assist an institution to implement its directives when the CBK believes a bank or its officers are not in compliance with the act. The new law provides tools to assist troubled banks without shutting them down, and CBK can also order some shareholders to wind down their interest in institutions within a specific time.
  • Spam messages? Bank shall not communicate marketing messages to customers unless the customer loan agreement authorizes it.  
  • Statements: Requires all borrowers to be given term sheets before signing for loans, and a  copy of the loans contract afterwards. They are also entitled to a free statement every six months and other copies within ten days of a request.
  •  Variations: loan agreements shall not have clauses to vary interest during the loan, or be based on a different rate other than the reference rate of the lender.  
  • Wide Regulation: The new laws will apply to all providers of more than fifty loans and issuer of loans have six months to obtain the new licenses. What of loan apps?

Whether this new law which cracks down on unsavoury banking and consumer finance and behaviors will ease out the 2016 interest rate capping law while assuring parliamentarians who  championed the setting of maximum interest rates that bank behaviour will be better-regulated remains to be seen. Also if the clauses will help borrowers who have shifted to other more expensive lending platforms regardless of the consumer finance terms and interest rates charged there.

But the bill also creates a host of new financial regulators including; (i) a Financial Markets Conduct Authority (ii) Financial Services Tribunal (iii) Conduct Compensation Fund Board (iv) Financial Sector Ombudsman (v) an Ombudsman Board who may trip over other existing financial regulators.The bill is in the public participation stage and interested persons can send in feedback on its clauses to ps_at_treasury.go.ke before June 5.

SheTrades Commonwealth Launches

The International Trade Center (ITC) has launched a women-economic empowerment program for female entrepreneurs to be able to trade across borders.

“SheTrades” aims to grow one million female entrepreneurs, and is starting with Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh, in export-ready fields of apparel (textiles), agriculture (tea, coffee, avocado) and services (ICT, tourism). The program will offer training, capacity building and support to enable women, entrepreneurs to be more competitive, and prepare their companies for export markets such as through obtaining certifications, connecting to buyers and being able to talk they way into deals.

The SheTrades program is based on seven principle of quality data, fair policies, public procurement, striking business deals, enabling market access, unlocking financial services, and securing ownership rights. Kenya is acknowledging for having female supportive laws such as setting aside 30% of government procurement for women, youth and persons with disabilities, though the uptake of this has lagged. It also has some women-focused funding initiatives while Barclays Kenya has a program with ITC  to increase women’s access to international trade opportunities.

SheTrades is funded by the UK’S DFID and the SheTrades Commonwealth Kenya initiative is open to companies that are at least 30% female-owned and female-managed are eligible for sign up on the SheTrades website.

Idea Exchange: Food, Fellowship, Counties, Army Worm, Film, Sports, AI, Oil Opportunities

New, and ongoing, opportunities to apply for.

UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, jointly with Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of the Alibaba Group, have the eFounders Initiative aims to help bridge the digital divide faced by young entrepreneurs in developing countries and allow them to grasp the opportunities of e-commerce ecosystems.  This capacity building programme to empower 1, 000 e-commerce entrepreneurs from developing countries over a period of five years to become catalysts and the next course will focus on African entrepreneurs from Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda and will take place at the campus of the Alibaba Business School in Hangzhou, China from 19 to 29 June 2018. Application Deadline: 4 May 2018
Earth Journalism Network: Climate Change Media Partnership 2018 Reporting Fellowships Apply to report from both the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and the UN Climate Negotiations in Katowice, Poland.

The Africa Food Prize is the preeminent award for recognizing the extraordinary individual or institution whose contributions to African agriculture are forging a new era of sustainable food security and economic opportunity for all Africans.  The deadline for nominations for the USD 100,000 prize is Tuesday 15 May and the 2018 winner will be unveiled at a high-profile gala dinner at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018 this September in Kigali, Rwanda.

African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest: Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize that offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa-a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. The application deadline is 14 May 2018 and applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

Africa Innovation Summit II: A call for application has been launched across Africa for innovations addressing the continent’s challenges – which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. Applications close on 15 April.

The 2018 African Union Research Grant offers up to $9 million of funding. The deadline for applications is May 22 The call supports research on food, nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA).

Andela Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria Fellowships:  The recruitment Schedule for Andela Kenya fellowship cycle 29, and Andela Nigeria, cycle 33 deadline is May, while for the Andela Uganda fellowship cycle 9 and boot camp, the deadline is April 27.

Anzisha Prize: Aims to find a young entrepreneur who is making a difference in their community,  aged 15- 22 so that they can have the chance to win a shared amount of US$100 000 and become an Anzisha fellow. The deadline is 15 April.

Asoko, in a new collaboration with the London Stock Exchange Group, PwC and CDC Group is seeking Africa’s leading private companies – companies to Inspire Africa for a leading report showcasing Africa’s 1,000 most dynamic private, high-growth companies. Deadline is June 11.

BAKE Awards 2018: The nominees of the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) Awards 2018, that recognizes and awards the best in Kenyan blogging have been announced  in categories including Technology, Photography, Creative Writing, Best Business Blog, Food , Environmental , Fashion & Style, Agricultural, Best New Blog, Corporate Blog, Sports, Entertainment, Education, Travel, Public Health, County Blog, Religious or Spirituality , Lifestyle, Beauty & Hair, Best Video Blog (Vlog), Social Issues & Active Citizenship, and Kenyan Blog of the Year. Voting for the winners is now on, up to 30 April.

The BMCE Bank of Africa – African Entrepreneurship Award 2018 has $1 million of prizes and a trip to Morocco for entries in categories of innovation or sports entrepreneurship. Deadline is  April 30, and more details here.

Chatham House invite applicants for the Academy Africa Fellowship in the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs in research topics for 2018-19 of
new technologies and their impact on international security (with a focus on artificial intelligence or space), the geo-economics of technology, climate-resilient development ( managing energy transition in a low-income context) and the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) in Africa. The deadline for applications is 29 April.

DEMO Africa 2018: DEMO Africa is a launch pad for emerging technology and trends, attracting over 2000 people from around the globe to experience the finest African innovations. The top five startups from DEMO Africa will be sponsored to Silicon Valley for an all-expense paid trip to be part of the Lions@frica Innovation Tour. Now accepting startup applications until June 15.

EDiT Research Fellows in Applied Development Finance: The Global Development Network (GDN) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have partnered to create the ambitious EIB-GDN Program in Applied Development Finance for deepening understanding of EIB’s investment operations in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Under this partnership, GDN and EIB will identify, train and deploy teams of research professionals in the ACP regions to conduct “deep dive” studies of selected projects funded under EIB’s Impact Financing Envelope (IFE).

Kenyan winners from the Tony Elumelu Foundation announced earlier this year

Fourth Mining 4i: The Strathmore Extractives Industry Centre (SEIC), in collaboration with the Kipya (Africa) Limited and Extractives Baraza, hosts the Fourth Mining 4i, an annual invite-only forum which focuses on the promotion of Kenya’s mineral potential by attracting investment in technological innovation.

Google Africa Scholarship Program:  Web and Android Scholarships available for residents of African countries. Some scholarship recipients may be able to participate in an Andela Learning Community with our partners from Andela. Finally, top students from each track will earn full scholarships to one of our Android or Web Development Nanodegree programs. Applications due by April 24.

Kalasha Kenya: Submit your entries for the #MyKenyaMyStory competition for a chance to walk away with grand prizes worth Kshs 500,000 Check poster for more details.

The Competition Authority of Kenya #CAKuzaAwards2018 is celebrating excellence in Kenyan Broadcasting. Vote for your favorite TV and Radio Station, by sending the word KUZA to 15601. Voting is free.

Merck Accelerator Nairobi Satellite Program: In partnership with Mettā, Nairobi, Merck Accelerator’s satellite program in Nairobi is seeking early-stage startups with no more than 4 years in existence, startups in the fields of Healthcare, Life Sciences, Performance Materials and other search fields such as Biosensing and Interfaces, and Precision Farming. For startups based in East Africa, Nairobi Applications are open to May 5, 2018, and founders that are available are to attend a boot camp on May 15-18 in Nairobi, Kenya, if selected.

MEST Africa Challenge 2018: MEST is celebrating 10 years of supporting aspiring African entrepreneurs with a first Pan-African pitch competition, the MEST Africa Challenge. MEST Africa Challenge 2018 will give winning applicants the chance to meet and pitch to leading investors, corporate and ecosystem partners from Africa and beyond, at the finals in Cape Town. The trip will be fully funded. The winning entrepreneurs could receive, as much as, sh.5,000,000 ($50,000) in equity investment and space in one of MEST’s incubators. Companies that apply must be primarily tech-focused. Details here and the deadline for applications is April 22.

Microsoft Imagine Cup 2018: Microsoft has announced this year’s Imagine Cup, the students’ developer technology and innovation competition that will see winners walk with $100, 000 in prizes. Imagine Cup participants create or join a team of up to 3 students. Together, they make an original technology project from start to finish: come up with a great idea, make a plan, build a project, and submit. This year’s Imagine Cup has three special awards that represent the current state of digital transformation: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Mixed Reality.

Norwegian Accelerator, Pangea, a platform connecting African startups with international investment & expertise, has shortlisted 11 start-ups who will be considered for funding of up to 50,000 USD per startup. The 11 start-ups companies are drawn from Kenya-9, Egypt -1 and Nigeria-1. Pangea plans to launch a crowd investment platform in June 2018, allowing accelerated startups further access to funding.

The 8th Orange Social Venture Prize for Innovative Startups in Africa and Middle East (50,000 Euros in Prizes) aims to reward the best innovative business projects. Application deadline is May 31, but now no more Kenyan firms are eligible after Orange divested from Kenya.

Pitch AgriHack 2018 for young agriculture entrepreneurs is a competition for agriculture startups owned by young entrepreneurs, with reward being capacity building and access to a grant. It is organized by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). 8 winners will be selected from 2 categories and there will be an additional category to reward a woman-owned, founded or co-founded startup by one of the partnering organizations that made Pitch AgriHack 2018 possible. It is open to e-agriculture startups offering digital services in the agriculture sector. Details here and the deadline is 21 May.

She Leads Africa Accelerator is set to provide training and funding for women-led technology enabled businesses. The 2018 Accelerator will consist of three 1-week residencies in Lagos where entrepreneurs will receive training from the SLA team, business leaders and experts. Applications close on May 20.

Upstream Oil & Gas Awards: The Upstream Awards 2018 is a ceremony to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements from within the emerging upstream oil and gas industry. Nominations have closed for, among others, nominees for company of the year, drilling contractor, oil field services ​company of the year, upstream CEO, upstream woman of the year award, local community award, local supplier, oil & gas future leader, upstream financier of the year, journalist of the year, legislator of the year, engineering award, life achievement award, and upstream county award.

USAID and Feed the Future have issued an invite to Sub-Saharan Africa women in agribusiness for the Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Prize 2018. It is open to women helping smallholder farmers increase access to agricultural input (seeds, fertilizer, etc.), technology (ICT, irrigation, etc.), financial and risk management services. Winning applicants will enjoy access to capital to scale and improve their work. Details here and the deadline for applications is 25 April.

Visa will open the first Visa Everywhere Initiative for Sub Saharan Africa to young developers at this year’s Nairobi Tech Week (NTW) taking place from April 19- 21. Developers who win the Visa-led hackathon during the tech week will automatically gain entry into the Visa Everywhere Initiative where they will have an opportunity to compete for a chance to win up to US $50,000, at a regional event in the region.

WTO 2018 Essay Award for Young Economists:  The WTO has issued a call for young economists to submit papers for the 2018 WTO Essay Award. The award aims to promote high-quality research on trade policy and international trade co-operation and to reinforce the relationship between the WTO and the academic community. Essays must be submitted by 1 June 2018, must address issues related to trade policy and international trade co-operation and cannot exceed 15,000 words.

2018 World Travel Awards:  Nominees have been selected and voting for African winners in is open up to 19 August in categories including (*Kenyan nominees in brackets) – Leading Luxury Private Villa (Cottar’s Bush Villa, Maasai Mara) Africa’s Leading Tented Safari Camp(Elephant Pepper Camp Masai Mara, Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Finch Hattons, Mahali Mzuri, Porini Amboseli Camp, Selenkay Conservancy) Africa’s Leading Safari Lodge (Borana Lodge, Kicheche Bush Camp, Loisaba, Ngerende Island Lodge, ol Donyo Lodge, Sirikoi),  Africa’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre 2018  (The Kenyatta International Conference Centre), Africa’s Leading Serviced Apartments (Cowrie Shell Beach Apartments), Africa’s Leading Private Island Resort (Manda Bay, Rusinga Island Lodge) Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel Villa (The Cliff Villa, Alfajiri Villas) Africa’s Leading Hotel Residences (Palacina),  Africa’s Leading Hotel (Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel), Africa’s Leading Green Hotel ( Nairobi Serena Hotel, The Aberdare Country Club) Africa’s Leading Family Resort (Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club, Leopard Beach Resort & Spa), Africa’s Leading Business Hotel 2018 (Fairmont The Norfolk Hotel, Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi Upperhill, Tribe Hotel), Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel (Giraffe Manor, The Safari Collection,  Hemingways Nairobi, Lion in the Sun)  Africa’s Leading Beach Resort (AfroChic Diani Beach, Almanara Luxury Resort, Swahili Beach, The Majlis), Africa’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort 2018 (Diamonds Dream of Africa) Africa’s Leading Tourist Board 2018 (Kenya Tourism Board) and Africa’s Leading National Park (Masai Mara National Reserve).  

Kenya Airways has been nominated for Africa’s Leading Airline – Business Class, Africa’s Leading Airline – Economy Class, Africa’s Leading Airline, Africa’s Leading Airline Brand 2018 and Leading Inflight Magazine (Msafiri). Also nominated are Fly540 and Jambojet, for Africa’s Leading Low-Cost Airline 2018  and AirKenya, Fly540, Mombasa Air Safari, Safarilink Aviation, Tropic Air for Kenya’s Leading Domestic Safari Carrier 2018.

What other opportunities are there for readers to apply for?