Borrowyeng: mpesa loan apps and the plight of borrowing youth in Kenya

Fuliza loans has just hit one billion shillings daily. It got me thinking about the rate of borrowing in the country. My focus is not on the whole country though. My focus is on the youth, my peers, my schoolmates, anyone between the age eighteen and twenty five. Basically, everyone I know has an outstanding loan.

Most are even listed in the CRB. The fast cash loan apps in Kenya, tala, branch, opesa, okash, kashway, berry, mpesa loan apps like mshwari, if I could name a few, have a lot of popularity. Especially among the age group 18-25 since we are all looking for an easier way to attain money for our daily lifestyles. When asked the amount of money one has in their m-pesa, one includes their fuliza limit too.

Some time back last year, BC (before corona) when crowding was still legal, around July while we were still in school. My friend called me and said he had a very exciting idea and I should go to his room. It was boring Thursday afternoon and most of us had nothing to do since our weekends start on Thursday as campus students.

This was because Friday classes were mostly ignored to go have fun. I rushed to his room and found that the ‘mbogi’ as some of the millennials and all of the generation Z call it, had assembled. “Welcome to the 537th session of the mbogi,”said Njuguna, the more dramatic person in the group, “Ivy unaeza kaa penye unataka, ama usimame, yenye unajiskia.

Anyway, guys as I was eating my slice of pizza hapa mdogo mdogo (everyone laughs. actually it was just chapatti, he was always trying to be funny). “We sa mnacheka?” Anyway, let me ignore you sadistic turds. Guys si twende Ngong this weekend. I know it’s kind of short notice but najua nyinyi wote hapa hamna form.”

“We aki pesa ni tricky sahi. Kwanza how much do we need for this?” Mwende asks. “Si tunaeza changa kwani iko nini.”Dan, whos always behind Njugush in everything he says, speaks. Everyone started talking concurrently, some bashing Dan, some agreeing with him and some speaking just because everyone else was. The minor commotion soon died down and Njugush the creative mind in the group says his parents took him there once and it wasn’t as expensive as they think it is.

We immediately get down to googling the prices involved. Zip lining which was KES 700 per person, Ngong hills tour from KES 10,000, camping experience at around KES 900 shillings per person, highropes experience at KES 1,393 per person and some more adventures but because we were 7 broke people looking for some fun we crossed some off the list like hiking. “Guys so we need about 4k from all of you. My cousin has a moti nitamuomba, ni voxy. So wenye mko nayo already mnaeza toa. Zippy we ndio treasurer. Wacha nikutumie 1500 yenye niko nayo. Ebu tuanze kutoa zenye tuko nazo ndio by the time tunatoka hapa tujue tuko na ngapi total.”Njugush says.

We remove what we have and it comes to a total of KES 11,000. We are still a long way from the target. We took a break to go have a meal. We passed by the guys who sell sim cards outside the school and decided to buy a couple of cards since they go for like fifty shillings. We register a couple of cards with all ours IDs. We eat and come back to the Njuguna’s room. If only our parents knew the lengths we went through just to experience some fun. We started the borrowing process. We all connect to Njuguna’s mifi which he rarely tops up, but this was a crucial matter which needed all hands in.

We downloaded all fast cash loan apps and I swear you’d be surprised the number of loan apps in Kenya. At least 100, some that I personally have never heard of like Umba loan app, wakanda credit, itajika loan app etc. we even called uncles and aunties we’ve never talked to but just happened to have their numbers. We called our parents and used the ‘mum nahitaji pesa ya kuprint notes’ trick and ‘dad charger yangu ya laptop imeharibika and I need to study’ trick and a lot of tricks in the book. I even had some tricks and I was surprised I hadn’t used that before and recorded some in my notebook. They were so hilarious. We used the various sim cards to register with those apps. Some even threw their current sim cards after taking one more loan and realizing that they had a big debt on that sim card.

Did we go for the trip? No, no we didn’t. Did we still have fun? Yes, yes we did. KES 28,000 was a lot for campus students. The thought of having it then losing it that fast just didn’t appeal to us. That weekend was the best one of our lives. We went for a drinking spree with Njuguna’s cousin’s car, which lasted three days. We were kicked out of some clubs for causing a fracas but still went on to other clubs. Are we going to pay those loans? No we aren’t, not any time soon. It has been a year but we still haven’t paid those loans. Are we worried about the loans? Not even the tiniest bit.

We are all listed in the CRB but that doesn’t scare us from still trying to acquire those loans. Most campus students are like this. They borrow for various reasons and don’t pay. Some pay to raise their borrowing limits so they get a higher loan the next time and not pay all the same while others just borrow and purposely don’t pay. I guess that this is our way of life.

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