Kilifi bank on the spot for withholding customer savings

KWFT bank manager Sammy Kimani has since asked those with concerns to visit their offices

In Summary
  • The 100 women said officers of Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT) started intimidating them after they requested to have their savings back
  • Gladys Patrick, Manguto Women Group chairperson, said the problem started two years ago when they were denied access to loans
Manguto Women Group chairperson Gladys Patrick in Mazeras, Kilifi county
Manguto Women Group chairperson Gladys Patrick in Mazeras, Kilifi county
Image: Aura Ruth

Women in Mazeras, Kilifi county have accused a microfinance institution of withholding their savings.

The 100 women said officers of Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT) started intimidating them after they requested to have their savings back.

Gladys Patrick, Manguto Women Group chairperson, said the problem started two years ago when they were denied access to loans.

She said when they followed up, they were told that there is a technical problem with M-loan.

"We tried to engage the branch manager, who told us that we will receive the loans but up to date, we have never received the money," Patrick said.

"Instead, he changed tunes and asked those with loans to repay first.”

Mazeras branch manager Sammy Kimani has denied the allegations.

"Anyone with concerns regarding their loans, should visit our office to solve the problem instead of looking for the media," he said.

But the women said their suggestions to have the bank deduct the loans from their savings were not heard.

"What we have in our accounts is much more than what we owe the bank.  When KWFT denied us loans, we took loans from our small 'chamas' to take our children to school and boost our businesses,” Patrick said.

“Our sources of income are depleted and we are unable to pay loans in two places. That is why we want them to deduct what we owe them from our savings because we are no longer interested in saving with them due to intimidations."

She said the bank told them their request is against the law.

Patrick accused the branch manager of breaking the law by going to their homes to pressure and harass them to pay the loans.

"I have been saving with KWFT for more than 10 years, and what I have in my account as my savings is more than Sh100,000. Why can't they take the little money I owe them from my savings and give me my balance?" she asked.

Patrick criticised the bank for offering persons with close to Sh200,000 savings, Sh20,000 loan.

"They told us they will issue loans afresh so people should create groups of 10 people to access the loans," she said.

Loice Jumwa, a member of Fwenzani Women Group said her team stopped saving with KWFT bank in 2017 due to similar challenges. 

"We used to work with them so swiftly until when they started to impose loans on us. One of their officers colluded with one of our members and disappeared with our money,” she said.

"We decided to pay back the loans but up to date, we have never been given our savings. We have women who have never recovered from the trauma and some even died." 

Their appeal to authorities to help them did not bear fruits.

"This is why we have come together today to ask KWFT to give us back our savings. It really hurts to see women suffer and languish in poverty yet an institution is withholding their savings," she said.

They fear that in any case the bank decides to close, they will lose their money.

Albert Mwarua said he tried to contact the institution on behalf of his wife but his request was declined.

"All I wanted was for them to tell me how much my wife had saved and how I can get the savings," he said.

"We don't have peace in our homes because of the challenges our wives are facing. It makes to deny a person access to her shares of almost Sh200,000 because of of a Sh4,000 loan," he said.

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