President William Ruto has pleaded with Kenyans to repay Hustler Fund loans to keep the programme going.
Speaking in Embu on Friday, May 26, 2023, the Head of State urged Kenyans not to abuse the fund which he said was launched with the aim of uplifting small traders.
"The Hustler funds are not for free and should be returned to the government," Ruto told traders in Embu.
"We wanted Kenyans to access funds so as to benefit and they should not abuse the programme. Some people are saying they voted for me and they must keep the funds, no it should not happen like this. The funds given are debts and Kenyans should pay up," he added.
The President noted that the government intends to launch the second phase of the fund during the Madaraka Day celebrations in Embu on June 1 so that Kenyans can benefit from the programme even more.
"In stage two, Kenyans will be able to get between Ksh20,000 and Ksh200,00 without collateral," Ruto told traders during the launch of affordable housing and the Embu Market free Wi-Fi to support e-commerce in the county.
He told Embu residents that they had borrowed about Ksh500 million and 70 per cent of them had settled their debts.
The launch will come seven months after the Kenya Kwanza administration unveiled the individual loans, where Kenyans can access a minimum of Ksh500.
The loan service attracts an 8 per cent interest per annum.
During the launch in November last year, the President said loan defaulters would not be listed on CRB, as they will have another chance of reborrowing.
"The defaulter can repay the loan at once or in instalments and begin borrowing again after full repayment," Ruto said.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party leader had in his campaigns promised a new economic order that would address unemployment and lack of opportunities for youth, pledging to pump billions of shillings in support of sectors such as the boda bodas and small retailers.
During the 59 Jamhuri Dat celebrations last year, President Ruto told off the opposition for inciting Kenyans not to repay their loans.
"Be humane, be kind and please allow the people borrowing the hustler fund to also enjoy low-interest rates the way you and your families are enjoying," the President said.
"Do not derail those Kenyans who have suffered for long from now accessing money on a digital platform that is of interest that is reasonable."
A section of members of the Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya Coalition has been urging their supporters not to repay their Hustler Fund loans.
During the first ‘consultative meeting’ on December 7, 2022, Azimio Parliamentarians claimed the money belongs to Kenyans.
While urging Azimio supporters to default on their debts, Kasipul Member of Parliament (MP) Ongondo Were admitted that he took a loan from the Hustler Fund and did not intend to repay it.
“The government money you have borrowed, even me I have borrowed we are not paying it back,” he said.
“All those who have received the Hustler Fund money continue using it because it is your tax," Suna West MP Peter Masara added.