Kenyan President William Ruto on Wednesday launched a microcredit scheme called the “Hustlers Fund,” a key element of an election campaign in which the longtime politician portrayed himself as a self-made businessman desperate to help his countrymen get ahead.
Ruto made Kenyan class divisions the focus of his presidential campaign in August, promising to reward low-income “hustlers” and rally support across ethnic lines.
The Kenyan Presidency said on Twitter that the fund, which will be worth Sh50 billion ($409 million) annually over the next five years, would help rid more than 15 million people of predatory creditors by issuing loans of up to Sh 50,000.
Borrowing at an 8% annual interest rate, Ruto said in a speech in the capital Nairobi, is much cheaper than the average lender on the market, disguising a promise made during the campaign to offer interest-free loans.
“The Hustler Fund will help small business owners heal ordinary Kenyans from trauma and help embed a culture of saving, investing and social security,” Ruto said on Twitter.
“Today we stand by our commitment to provide millions of ordinary Kenyans with access to affordable credit,” he said.
Accessible through mobile money platforms, Safaricom, the country’s largest telecom operator, said on Twitter, and the loan will be provided through four products: personal finance, small loans, small and medium-sized business loans and start-up loans.