NTV business journalist Wallace Kantai has spoken of a very interesting conversation he had with Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge.

Apparently, most mobile phone loans (Mshwari, KCB Mpesa etc.) are taken during some very unusual hours. Upto a third of all loans are taken between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

It would make sense that the people driving this habit (at this time) are drunkards paying for their night out, but the actual reason for this habit is quite noble.

Small business-people, the kind who work in ‘vibanda’ and markets, are actually the ones behind this habit.

This is how Wallace explained it on Facebook.

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‘Was told a very interesting story by the Central Bank Governor: Turns out that, for one of the mobile phone credit services, up to a third of loans are taken between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Most are repaid within twenty four hours. When the CBK dug deeper into this statistic, here is what they found out: a mama mboga (fruit and veg seller, for the non-Kiswahili speakers among us – typically a woman) will be awake at that hour, and borrow around 5,000 bob.

She will then send money to her wholesaler at Marikiti. Once she’s placed her order, she then sends money to her mkokoteni – handcart – dude, who knows where to drop off the consignment. She then wakes the children up, prepares them for, and dispatches them off to, school. She then calls her nduthi – motorbike – guy, who picks her up at home and drops her off at her trading location. She trades all day, and by evening, repays the mobile loan, only to begin the process again a few hours later.

Kenyan – and African – economies are wondrous things. While technology for some may be about drones and AI, with fancy terms like Fintech thrown in for good measure, the humble mobile phone has revolutionised lives.



  • Godfrey Mwiti Gitobu

    A great piece.


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