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- Yvonne Amukwaya
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Established in July 2010, Kongalend Financial Services is a grassroots centered micro-finance institution providing financial solution to people from all parts of the country.
Kongalend offers SME’s with loans ranging from N$1,000 to N$ 250,000 to help them engage in productive and value-adding activities.
According to Hania Janiurek-Ashipala, General Manager: Corporate Communications, their SME loans are accessible to every Namibian who wants to engage in entrepreneurial activity. “Traditional commercial banks are very reluctant to help these small people such as meme kapana and you find that people in marginalised areas are often left behind as they can not always make it to the commercial banks but Kongalend makes its way to the people.”
She said that part of providing services to the people includes going out into the remotest rural areas in order to finance these people even if it is just for five people that want to make a decent living but are turned down by the commercial banks. Kongalend has provided financial solutions to close to nine-hundred people in the last eighteen months alone with an average loan value of N$60,000.
She said that although they are eager to help SME’s, they aim to provide financial solutions in order for people to generate more income for themselves to improve their livelihood. “Kongalend is a very developmental orientated institution and we aim promote sustainable development more than anything else as access to financing is very important in the modern world.”
Janiurek-Ashipala said that they predominantly aim to stimulate small business as well as individuals that have an idea that can actually generate an income for them as well as repay the loan. She said that while politicians always say SME’s are important to the economy, they forget that financing is an [obstacle].
She said that while she applauds initiatives such as the Financial Literacy Initiative of which Kongalend is also a partner, people are far more financially literate than is generally realised. “You can drop a five cent and leave it there but an ordinary person that finds it will pick it up because they know the true value of such little money.”
During the interview with the Economist, Janiurek-Ashipala also revealed that since inception, Kongalend has given out N$26 million in loans up until June with N$8.5 million given this year alone.
She said that they have a 96.5% payment rate which is fairly good. “Of course bad debts do occur but we tend to know our customers a little better and we are much more responsible in terms of the people we lend money to as to avoid such problems in the first place.”
“The SME loans are grouped into two categories, group loans and individual loans. This allows the borrowers to choose whether the loan will be taken out as a group or only by an individual for whatever productive activity. Explaining the concepts, Janiurek-Ashipala said that the SME individual financing allows for even meme kapana to get a loan to buy stock and generate income from her kapana whilst the group loan gives members access to financing for business growth or development and is based on social trust on the basis that the loan is granted by taking the word of the people that knows one another personally.
Kongalend is in partnership with the Shack Dwellers Association for the benefit of people who are waiting for housing assistance allowing them to make a living and earn money from the loans granted to them while waiting for such assistance from the organisation. Janiurek-Ashipala said that loans under N$50,000 are mortgage free and those above are not. This is cited as evidence of their business commitment.
Kongalend is also in Ondangwa and Rundu with an active agent operating in Katima Mulilo. Loan periods range from 12 to 60 months.
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