Mandera Governor Ali Roba has launched a Ksh 368 million County Trade Development Fund to boost businesses in the County and the region.
The no-interest sharia compliant kitty covers persons living with disabilities, self-employed people, women from vulnerable backgrounds and youths seeking creative business ventures.
Speaking at the event, Roba called for transparency and accountability to ensure the most deserving access the funds. He said his office will closely monitor the disbursement of the funds to ensure it serves its purpose.
“The Ministry of Trade must make all efforts to ensure sustainability of the Revolving Fund for more people to benefit. You do not have to know anyone to qualify,” he said.
The first trench which will be disbursed in phases covers Ksh 50 million in 2019-20 financial year.
The fund, which is La-Riba and Sharia-compliant, will not attract interest as is the case with financial lenders and commercial banks whose rates exceed 12 per cent per year.
The Governor encouraged all vulnerable groups who want to venture into Jua Kali, salons, barbershops and other ventures to apply.
He also urged small businesses and medium enterprises to take advantage of the fund to expand their businesses.
If properly utilized and managed, the fund will help families, engage youths in constructive activities and deter them from joining radical groups, Roba said.
He directed the Trade department to train traders and the youth on available opportunities for investments with good returns saying the success of the fund will be largely be driven by the people who will access credit and pay back.
Roba said for the fund to be sustainable all possible beneficiaries must engage in good business ventures and practices adding they must then repay the funds since it’s a revolving fund.
He said the county was strategically positioned to tap into cross-border trade with Ethiopia and Somalia.
Roba has been lobbying for the reopening of the border between Kenya and Somalia, which was closed by the National Government in 2014 following series Al Shabaab attacks in Mandera town.
In March, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma and her Somalia counterpart Ahmed Isse Awad were in Mandera where they signed a joint agreement to deepen trade between the two Countries.