By Gor Ogutu
Gladys Kanyiva is a business woman on a mission. She is not your ordinary Sales and Marketing Manager.
She knows what ails the microfinance industry in Kenya: frustrations of clients by microfinance firms through exorbitant interest rates, hidden charges, and repossessed vehicles.
She works for OnePay Credit Limited, a micro-finance firm on a mission to change these ills alongside other long-held public perceptions of credit micro-finance institutions as extortionist “shylocks”, who are quick to attach and auction property of defaulting loanees.
OnePay Credit Limited, the microfinance firm whose sales department she heads, is in a race to spearhead and actualize revolution of the microfinance industry in Kenya.
Gladys and the firm she works for want micro financiers to become trusted investment partners by the general public and private sector.
The firm is a securities reliant microfinance institution based in Nairobi’s Kilimani area, targeting clients with irregular and unpredictable income.
“We entered this field aware that micro-finance firms do not have the best of public reputations in finance industry. One of our core goals at inception was to cleanse the space of bad public reputation: To create a totally different sort of microfinance firm open to negotiating and understanding.”
“Our goal is not to take away people’s cars and securities like title deeds, but is instead to explore negotiations and constant restructuring and amicable terms of loans repayment, and that means we also target for help people who have been frustrated by other microfinance firms,” she told The Times.
OnePay Credit Limited is adopting a different strategy of case by case understanding and negotiations in solving client financial needs and outstanding dues as opposed to threats of security repossession and use of auctioneers to enforce compliance to terms of microfinance repayment.
“We worked for a micro-finance organization before branching out to start our own firm. OnePay Credit Limited is a non-deposit taking microfinance organization. We offer loans to clients without necessarily being members or saving with us. We offer access to credit for many in need but without access to credit when they need it the most,” says Gladys Kanyiva.
Hers is a firm belief. “In the Finance industry, it is go big or go home. It means that people who take high risks get high rewards and you wouldn’t know until you take the risk,” she says with conviction.
Gladys believes everything that does not happen is because someone did not do it. “In entrepreneurship when you start, there is a chance it will work out and another that it will not. But if you don’t start, you will never find out.”
According to Gladys’s Kanyiva, many clients of the company work in the private sector, even though the firm is open to borrowing by all including public servants, with a turnaround time of six hours for processing the loans.
“Contractors, suppliers, people working with LPO’s, tenders and individual business owners such as Uber and taxi drivers are our biggest clients,” she says, adding that OnePay Credit also comes in handy for many bankers who are restricted from taking loans from competing banks while still working for the employer.
OnePay also serves individual businesses such as wines and spirits ventures seeking to expand liquor business to home delivery services in the era of Covid-19 pandemic.
While employed people with regular income and those with securities can access bank loans at their convenience, Gladys says her microfinance organization understands what this means for those who do not fall within these parameters of salaried income security.
“There are many people whose income is irregular and constantly fluctuates. They probably get only just one deal in a year. Banks will insist on credit referencing bureau checks of such people for example, while SACCOs will require them to have saved up for up to six months, which we don’t do here as OnePay Credit.
She hints that taxi drivers seeking financial independence from employers through ownership of their own cars are also some of the firm’s biggest recent beneficiaries.
OnePay Credit Limited tops up whatever savings they have to enable them purchase a car of their own for the taxi business, as they agree on repayment terms while the firm keeps the vehicle log-book as security.
“The best part is that we assist them further into the process of importing the vehicle or buying it locally if they so wish,” says Gladys Kanyiva.
OnePay Credit also accepts title deeds as security while offering salary advances of up to forty or fifty percent of your net pay. “Most clients approaching us for salary advances work for private companies.
To minimize the risk we directly get into partnership with the human resource departments who is their employer by signing a memorandum of understanding allowing any of the employees to get salary advances at any point,” says Gladys.
Many Kenyans remain fearful of micro-finance organizations citing exorbitant interest rates, a mythical fear Gladys Kanyiva is quick to allay: “Our interest rates are definitely way cheaper than the mobile apps which a lot of people prefer. We disburse to clients within a turnaround time of six hours via mobile money and they have a grace period repayment leeway time of up to three months, as opposed to mobile loans that are only up to a month.”
She decries the high number of Kenyans who continue to find themselves locked out of access to financial credit by credit referencing bureaus and believes the listing should be reformed.
“Background credit reports are historical. If you are listed for a student loan or took out say Ksh500 from a mobile app while in college for example and got listed, it shouldn’t define who you are at the moment and must not derail your investment prospects, further limiting your chances of ever being able to repay the loan,” says the financial expert.
OnePay credit also buys off loans for clients who wish to clear their loans with other financial institutions on condition that they transfer securities held with the loaning institution to the custody of the firm as the client works out a favorable repayment formula with OnePay Credit.
“We are more interested in building a community with our clientele. As a firm, we want clients to have a place where they feel like they are heard, where their needs can be customized. We want to cleanse the microfinance name.” she told The Times business desk.