Since its establishment in 1995, Helb has funded more than sh44 billion to about 400,000 beneficiaries leaving more than a third or 38 per cent of its loan book dormant.
From boom back in the days to Helb, the government funds to university students has been used wrongly once the bank transfers reflect on an individual account from the board. Alcohol indulgence is the most popular use of the money, purchasing household accessories like home theaters and Tv screens is also among the list not forgetting keeping up with fashion trends and the dynamic technology gadgets.
The government has however put a stop to that by introducing pre-paid electronic cards that will allow tracking of borrowers’ future bank transactions unlike the usual Kenya Revenue Authority pin used to direct the government in order to deduct any debts owed to Helb.
The loans board has partnered different banks on this one; National Bank, KCB Group, Chase Bank,Equity Bank, Jamii Bora and NIC Bank to develop the cards which students will use to pay tuition, upkeep, buy books and stationery meaning money meant for fees will not be used for any other purposes hence the tap and pay feature on the new cards.
The e-money issuance of loans is a fast, cheap and more convenient way will show credit history which will help students build their credit stores for purposes of future borrowings from financial institutions. Loan defaulters will suffer hefty loans therefore the government has hired debt collectors and prosecutors to track down, prosecute and recover the cash.
I bet the government will no longer have to put up advertisements in media houses to help track helb beneficiaries by instilling responsibility sense into them. With the agency currently pursuing 75,498 loan defaulters who owe the board sh8.3 billion.
It is definitely of great benefit to banks due to the commissions and fees charged on processing such as payments. The cards linked to the Visa and Mastercard network to allow loan beneficiaries to access funds from ATMs and shop for goods and services at retail stores.
The government aims to deploy close to 80,000 cards in phase one of the programme by the end of May with pilot studies already running in two local universities.