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Fuel Prices Increase for Third Month in A Row

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Kenyans face a higher cost of living following a sharp rise in fuel prices as announced by the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC) effective 15th May 2019.

According to the latest monthly revisions, motorists will now have to dig deeper into their pockets to purchase petrol which is now going for Sh112 per litre, an increase of Sh5.43.

Diesel, an important element in the transport and manufacturing industries, is now retailing at Sh104.37, up Sh2 from last month’s price.

Meanwhile, the price of kerosene, mainly used in homes, has risen by Sh2.24 to retail at Sh104.62 per litre.

In Mombasa, a litre of petrol will retail at Sh109.38 with diesel retailing at Sh101.75. The highest prices of fuel will be in Mandera, with petrol going for Sh124.88 while diesel will be priced at Sh117.24.

In Lokichogio, Turkana County, petrol will retail at Sh120.85 per litre. In Moyale, petrol will sell at Sh121 per litre.

ERC attributed the increase in pump prices to the higher landing cost of oil products.

“The changes in this month’s prices have been as a consequence of the average landed cost of imported super petrol increasing 11.39 per cent to $691.25 (Sh69,100) per tonne in April 2019, diesel increasing 2.75 per cent to $641.67 (Sh64,100) per tonne and kerosene increasing two per cent to $675.82 (Sh67.500) per tonne,” said EPRA Director General Pavel Oimeke.

The price reviews have seen petrol pump prices rise for the third month in a row by at least Sh5 per litre since Sh101 in March.

The higher fuel prices will have the net effect of raising the country’s inflation, which was recorded at 6.58 per cent in April.

Fuel is one of the most heavily taxed products with six taxes for petrol and two for diesel. Consumers of Kerosene, although exempted from road maintenance tax, still have to pay an anti-adulteration levy of Sh18 per litre.

 

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Business

Youth and Women to get Loans at 6% Interest Under the new Biashara Fund

A woman, youth or person with a disability shall be eligible to apply for a loan for business purposes if they are in a registered group where at least 70 per cent of the members are aged between 18 and 35 years.

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The Treasury has submitted regulations meant to guide its operations of the Sh 2 bilion biashara fund to the National Assembly for ratification.

The fund will see Women, youth and small business owners get loans from the State at six percent interest per. At six percent, the groups will borrow at half the prevailing commercial lending rate of 13 percent — a cap set by the Central Bank.

The Treasury revealed terms of the loan through Biashara Kenya Fund regulations.

Money borrowed from Biashara Fund will be used for business only, with applicants expected to prove that they have established businesses.

The Fund will also lend some of the money to intermediaries such as commercial banks and saccos, who will, in turn, lend to these special groups at a maximum rate of 10 per cent.

Biashara Fund will lend money to commercial banks at an annual interest rate of three percent.

Intermediaries who provide counterpart funding at least equivalent to the amount advanced by the Fund will, however, repay a minimum interest of one percent.

The regulations also add that not more than 25 per cent of the fund’s cash will be lent to intermediaries.

The rules cap the maximum amount that the banks or financial intermediaries can advance a single borrower at Sh3 million.

Upion approval, the fund will lead to the merger of Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEF) and Women Enterprise Fund (WEF). The three funds had been created to empower women and the youth in entrepreneurship but have not had the intended impacts due to lack of proper coordination.

A woman, youth or person with a disability shall be eligible to apply for a loan for business purposes if they are in a registered group where at least 70 per cent of the members are aged between 18 and 35 years.

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Safaricom and Equity in Deal to Offer Loans to Contractors

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Safaricom contractors that may find themselves short on cash will now be able to access as much as Sh200 million in unsecured short-term loans following a deal between the telco and Equity Bank. This will help the contractors to maintain cash flow positions before receiving payment for their services.

The firm wrote a letter addressed to its business partners in which it said that the aim of the deal is the creation of a more procurement-ready business. The main beneficiaries will be Safaricom dealers, suppliers, and agents.

In the fiscal year ended March 2019, Safaricom had 440 dealers, 156,000 M-Pesa agents, and 1,164 suppliers.

“We are pleased to inform you of our partnership with Equity Bank which will offer our partners financing solutions linked to purchase orders and invoices,” said Francis Murabula, Safaricom’s head of supply chain management, in the letter.

He is asking the dealers, suppliers, and agents for consent to share their information including contact details, invoice and purchase order information to enable loan processing for potential firms.

Contractors will be able to borrow from Equity before or after they fulfill their contractual obligations with Safaricom.

The terms and amount of the loan applied for will depend on each company’s credit rating.

Therefore, for a contractor to qualify for an unsecured loan of up to Sh200 million, they have to be using unpaid accounts for goods and services that have already been provided to Safaricom as their collateral.

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Kenya’s Victoria Bank Appointed to Invest Sh1.5bn in Fin-tech Start-ups

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Victoria Commercial Bank (VCB), based in Kenya, has been appointed to oversee the investment of a Dubai-based equity fund’s kitty worth Sh1.5 billion in African and Asian financial technology startups.

This will see 1.7 million customers hailing from several countries including Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Nepal, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and India benefit from the Nimai Emerging Financial Services Fund (NESF) facility.

“The markets were chosen based on the existing (fintech) presence and experience. It integrates investment expertise with deep operational capability and resources,” said a joint statement.

According to Yogesh Pattni, the VCB chief executive, the deal presents an opportunity for a stronger partnership with Nimai Capital. The latter recently set up a kitty worth Sh1 billion to fund onward lending to enterprises operated by women.

Housing finance, insurance, microfinance, banking, and retail are some of the technology mobility-enabled emerging financial services opportunities that will receive investment from the fund.

Pankaj Mundra, NESF’s co-founder and managing director, expects VCB’s extensive understanding of the Kenyan market and business experience to be of benefit to the fund.

“We look forward to working with Victoria Commercial Bank to source and develop investment opportunities for the Fund across East Africa,” said Mr. Mundra.

The benefits to be enjoyed by investee firms include expert financial advice from line companies, system integration with Indian fintech firms and access to financial services from the diaspora.

“We have a firm belief that the fund will make a significant and positive impact in the lives of millions of families in addition to generating appropriate financial returns for investors,” the statement added.

A proven track record is a condition for start-ups to access funding.

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