Kenyan President unveils digital loan for groups as nation celebrates 60 years of self-rule

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NAIROBI, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Thursday launched a digital loan facility for groups and Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (Saccos) as the country commemorated 60 years of internal self-rule.

President William Ruto, who launched the digital scheme, said the product dubbed Hustler Group Loans, would give members economic freedom as envisaged by Kenya's founding fathers.

"Under the Hustler Group Loans, we will be giving groups funding of between 20,000 shillings (144 U.S. dollars) and 1 million shillings. We want to ensure that these groups engage in business and create jobs," Ruto said during the 60th Madaraka (Independence) Day celebrations in the upper eastern Kenyan county of Embu, some 130 km from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

The new government-funded scheme builds on an earlier one named Hustler Fund which enables individuals to borrow micro-loans of at least 3.6 dollars.

President Ruto said more than 20 million Kenyans have subscribed to the initial fund, which has disbursed some 216 million dollars, of which 142 million dollars has been repaid.

Kenya is home to thousands of small groups known as chamas under which members contribute money and take out loans at friendly rates.

Through the chamas, which are mainly operated by women at the grassroots, small businesses have sprung up thanks to affordable loans.

The new government-run funding scheme comes as a shot in the arm for members of the groups and Kenya's quest to be a digital economy.

President Ruto said as Kenya celebrates the day it gained self-rule, it has made steady progress in eliminating poverty and expanding political freedom and social dignity. Enditem

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