post by Benson
Pezesha means capital enabler. We recently launched a weekly online series to demystify this mantra that has spearheaded the vision of Pezesha Limited since late 2016. Our mission is to enable access to affordable working capital to SMEs through our scalable digital lending infrastructure. Our success is defined by the impact we have created so far to drive meaningful financial inclusion and prosperity for MSMEs which account for 80 percent of the continent’s employment. These businesses are faced daily with the challenges of accessing affordable business credit especially from formal financial institutions such as commercial banks.
Why? They are not able to provide collateral such as immovable assets due to their small asset base and lack formal credit history documentation. Consequently, they resort to borrowing from friends and relatives. However, this type of financing is hardly enough to run the operations such as paying suppliers or catering for the day-to -day working capital needs.
The story of Anthony, a local restaurant owner
Such is the story of Anthony, a business owner in Nairobi’s Fedha estate where he sells fast foods and offers delivery services. He employs two people and has an annual turnover of about Ksh100,000($10,000). Tony’s journey in acquiring funding for his fast food business was a tidal one. With little savings and no collateral to offer his local bank, his dream of owning a business was sinking in the gutter. Relentlessly, he tried different banks and other financial institutions but without anything to offer, rejection was the new reality.
Based on his evaluation, he needed about Ksh50,000($500) to secure a business premise, pay business license and acquire his first stock. While on the last streak of trying, he decided to search online for institutions offering credit to small businesses at an affordable interest rate and he got just that. A wink from Pezesha, which led to a relationship that has seen his business grow from serving about twenty customers daily to over five hundred weekly.
In an interview, he attributed preference to Pezesha to how fast it takes to process business loans and the fact that one doesn’t need to provide any collateral. “It’s funny how I hardly pay attention to the interest rates. That goes to show you that they are very favorable. I have been with Pezesha since I discovered their services and they are the best thing that has happened to my business.” Now, he is able to pay his suppliers and employees on time.
The story of Khalid, a service provider to her community
In the southwestern suburb of Nairobi lies Africa’s largest slum, Kibera. Hundreds of small businesses offer a wide range of services to the community. At the heart of these businesses is an elderly woman whose business has grown tremendously and is turning unimaginable profits due to Pezesha’s affordable credit facilities.
Madam Khalid as locals refer to her, is wife to a senior citizen who needs help with carrying out daily activities, a mother of 4 and a grandmother. Being one of our pioneer clients, her story is the epitome of a micro enterprise that spun into success as a result of Pezesha’s mission to be the leading enabler platform connecting small businesses to working capital.
She used her first loan to purchase stock and cooking ingredients. With not enough money for rent, she turned the backyard of her house into an eatery. As the business grew steadily, the emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020 meant that her food business had to shift to takeaway and delivery services only. Profits dipped and she could no longer support her business.
“I knew times were hard and many businesses were struggling to stay afloat as restaurants were ordered to close, save for take away services. I was one of the lucky ones as I carried out all the operations in my house. Having a husband that requires my financial assistance,4 children and a grandchild made it even harder for me to relax. I had to make ends meet. I therefore pulled together my savings and applied for another loan with Pezesha.” Khalid said in an interview. “ I knew everyone was affected but when Pezesha got back to me with a loan approval call, I knew I was truly among the lucky ones,” she continued.
Even during the tough times of the pandemic, Pezesha has continued to support small businesses as they account for about 3 percent and about 80 percent of Kenya’s GDP and the continent’s economy respectively. Salma Khalid was able to diversify her business and now runs a household, home-based business dealing in Swahili ‘dera’ dresses. She has employed three people and empowered even more by referring their businesses to access affordable credit facilities through our referral program. As she narrated her journey with Pezesha, she couldn’t help but mention how much of a saviour our SME financing has been to her business. Madam Khalid is one of the more than 50% of women included in our financial ecosystem.
Even with its significant contribution to the economy, many SMEs are still faced with numerous challenges. A recent survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicated that approximately 400,000 micro, small and medium enterprises do not celebrate their second birthday.
SMEs supported by our holistic digital financial infrastructure are now on average celebrating their 5th birthdays. With deep rooted challenges such as limited market access, poor infrastructure, inadequate knowledge and rapid change in technology, our mission is to eradicate inadequate capital as a challenge facing small and medium enterprises and propel their prosperity. As we produce more success stories, our impact on SMEs is guided by our three-thronged vision of meaningful financial inclusion, financial Health and financial equity as more than 200,000 customers have received a credit score and financial education through our ecosystem and thousands of jobs have been created through support to excluded MSMEs in our value chain. The success stories of our SMEs continue to motivate us to reduce working capital inequalities one business at a time, as we build a network effect.