Money lending is one of the fastest growing businesses in Uganda and is currently being operated by the formal and the informal sector. The rise of money lenders in Uganda has arisen partly because of the need to access emergency funds to solve business and personal problems.
LinkmeUg caught up with 25 year old Marvin Akwasta, a money lender in Kampala, operating in Makerere University with an office behind one of the residence halls. Marvin holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and operates the Instant Cash business center. First we asked when he started lending money and who his clients are.
Marvin: I have been in the money lending business for over four years. I joined this business in 2012 with about 2M and today my capital stands at about 30M. Majority of my clients are Makerere University students and the business people in wandegeya. My regular clients borrow at 15% and new clients borrow at 20-25% interest rate but the rates can also depend on one’s bargaining power.
Why do students borrow money from a money lender?
Marvin: First and foremost, most of University students borrow money to cover a wide range of study-related expenses such as tuition, books, computers, cars, housing, etc.
What is the criteria before you lend money to your clients?
Marvin: We ask them to complete a form, attach their passport size photographs, and importantly hand in any valuables as collateral. Within a days, an agreement is signed between us and money is at their disposal.
When do your clients refund the money?
Marvin: Because most students don’t work, time for payment depends on the amount they’ve borrowed. So the period ranges from a week to two months. And because of that, we lend from as low at 50,000/=
What challenges have you faced in this business?
Marvin: The legal requirements before starting a money lending business was a bit challenging. High fixed costs like rent, defaulters, competition and late payments currently makes this kind of business even more challenging.
What is the competition like in this business?
Marvin: At MUK, there are more that 10 legally operating money lenders but the illegal ones exist too. Weekly I have a minimum of 10 borrowers. Because of my small clientele, I am the only employee of the company.
Like many money lending businessmen, Marvin notes that his experience in the business has kept him above the curve. He says that clearly stating a repayment schedule with clients is important. “You must repay the full amount of your loan by the time you finish your course to leave the University,” he highlights.
This young entreprenuer is not looking for a job and to supplement his income, Marvin is a farmer in Luwero growing bananas, coffee and other crops.
LinkmeUg reporter, Bright, spoke to Opio Paul (not real name) who was borrowing money at the time he said money lenders are a quick fix in times of trouble. “It is cheap for me to obtain a loan from this Marvin. Marvin is actually a friend of mine. It only took me a phone call and the money was availed to me,” says Apio.
By: Bright Twijukye
Online Media for Youth