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KQ Announces Flights to Geneva and Rome

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In a bid to increase its income by capitalizing on business and leisure visitors to Europe, Kenya Airways is set to launch flights to Rome and Geneva this week.

The flights to Rome will be restarting after a seven-year hiatus. This follows a suspension after a 2012 performance review led to the restructuring of flights.

Sebastian Mikosz, the outgoing KQ CEO, highlighted Rome as an important destination when announcing the airline’s new routes. Due to its culture and history, the Italian capital has earned the status of a “global city” – leading it to be among the world’s top tourist destination.

He also pointed out that Geneva, the carrier’s newest route, complements Nairobi, which is its continent’s hub for various international agencies.

As a host to the largest number of international organizations, Geneva is renown as the global hub for diplomacy.

Each of the two routes will be serviced by Kenya Airways’ 787 Dreamliner.

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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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