Elizabeth Njoki co-owns a 33-seater matatu (public service vehicle) with her husband, Sammy Kiiru.
That has not always been the case though for Ms Njoki who has steadily risen up the ranks in the matatu industry.
“My passion for the matatu industry must have been born while I was in high school when during the drama festivals I acted as a bus conductor,” she reminisces.
“Growing up, I was also fascinated by the way the conductors usually shouted at the stage as they competed for commuters,” says Ms Njoki, who started off as a store keeper, a job she diligently did for seven years.
Ms Njoki’s love affair with matatus did not die and while still storekeeping, she met a woman who was looking to invest in the matatu industry. They had a discussion about the industry and the woman asked her if she would be her conductor if she bought a matatu.
The woman indeed bought a matatu and Ms Njoki accepted to be a conductor. That was how her journey in the matatu industry began.
“I worked as a conductor at the Embassava Sacco for two years. In that period, we managed to help the owner of the matatu offset her loan as we were able to meet our targets,” says Ms Njoki.
But how did her family perceive her entry into a field considered not fit for a woman?
“When I started off, my family was not for it. They did not think it suited a woman or was decent enough for me to be engaging in,” she reveals.
“Over time though, and when they realised it was a job that was putting food on the table and educating our children, they accepted it.”
Despite the challenges that go with the rough and tumble of the chaotic matatu industry, her work was impressive and the sacco officials noticed it and encouraged her to apply for a better job in the Sacco.
“I got a job as a stage attendant, which entailed making sure that the commuters were safe and had a listening ear for their complaints. I was also passionate about assisting the elderly, physically challenged people and the expectant mothers as they boarded the matatus,” explains Ms Njoki.
Working in the industry and interacting with drivers, conductors and matatu owners broadened Ms Njoki’s perspective of the industry and soon she was convinced she had learned enough and started entertaining the idea of being her own boss.
She continued to increase her scope of knowledge in the industry as her superiors added her extra duties at work.
As a supervisor she ensured the vehicles in the Sacco met their targets, were serviced on time and genuine spare parts used.
“I figured that if I was instrumental in helping other matatu owners clear their car loans, I too would manage one of my own. I started selling the idea to my husband who had by now joined the industry as a driver where he, too, had managed to help clear the loans of his boss by his diligent work,” she says.
At around the same time she broached the subject of buying a matatu with her husband, a relative was having a hard time clearing his car loan due to financial challenges.
Ms Njoki and her husband proposed to buy the 33-seater from him. The couple bought the matatu last year for Sh2 million and are almost done with repaying the loan they took to top up the Sh100,000 they had saved.
Her husband took over the role of driver. They tried to look for a trustworthy conductor in vain. They then decided to work together with Ms Njoki handling the roles of a conductor.
“Earlier this year, we agreed that I should resign from my job in the Sacco and renew my conductor’s licence so that I could take over the conductor’s role in our matatu,” she says.
Ms Njoki says when starting they drew glances from matatu crews who wondered how a couple would work together in the matatu business.
“They told my husband that he could not have the opportunity to give girls free rides. Luckily for me, my husband did not listen,” she says, adding that while on the road she is a conductor at home she is a wife.
The couple in their early 40s works from 5.30am to 9.00pm every Monday to Saturday.
But how does the mother of three balance work and family?
She says their two elder sons who are 24 and 21, are almost independent while the youngest who is nine is also learning to be independent.
“Our first-born son is an artist and he usually assists the youngest with his home work while my second-born son is pursuing automotive engineering and usually helps us in minor repairs of the matatu while on vacation,” narrates Ms Njoki.
She admits there are challenges in the industry she faces as a woman but with time she has toughened up and is now able to navigate around most of them.
“I have also noticed that most women, expectant mothers and the physically challenged are more comfortable riding with me as I will ensure that they are comfortable on board before the vehicle takes off,” she says.
“I’m also comfortable knowing that my husband cannot take off before I’m safely in the vehicle as he takes extra care.”
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.