In a country where social norm does not allow the property to be transferred to the girls, it is indeed hard for women to make big investments on their own. In Kenya, this conservativism deeply affects the way financial institutions treat women. Generally, because of the insecurity, banks and lenders usually refrain from taking part in such deals. However, the time is changing and Kenyan women are investing more than ever, and that too in the sector that gives the most return on investment within a considerably less time – Real Estate. Apart from the local community, global Kenyan diaspora and even international investors have been drawn into the Kenyan real estate market that is on a steep rise.
In Kenya, 500,000 people are adding up every year to the total population who will need food, shelter, education, and all sorts of products and services. Multinational companies and foreign investors are already witnessing this transformation of Kenya and other Sub-Saharan countries like Nigeria and Ghana as a promising investment to be the next gigantic consumer-base market. This makes real estate a multi-fold ROI generator that has been delivering encouraging results since the last few years.
Impact of Remittance
According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), the remittance inflow went up to $222.55 million in March 2018 compared to $147.52 million in the previous year. Also, in 2017, the remittance-generated foreign exchange revenue was more than tea and coffee exports, and tourism which after the service sector and agriculture are the primary sources of driving Kenyan economy. This clearly implies that the people who send money to Kenya have contributed a lot to the overall growth of the nation. At the same time, there is no denying that the remit senders have got the tremendous potential to stabilize the Kenyan economy via foreign financial aids and local investment.
It’s Way More Than What We Know
Even though the CBK data shows significant growth in the inflow, the exact numbers are much higher as millions of Kenyan Shilling comes into the country through informal and even non-registered and unsecured sources. Although the recipients (family and friends of the sender) get the is money directly which they use to pay off their general expenses, it is not easily traceable. This is why it is essential for the remittance service providers to provide the best money transfer service to the customers while following the security protocols (such as mandatory KYC as per the AML/CFT laws) laid by the public financial institutions. In the end, the economy and financial condition of a nation depend on the policies made by the leaders.
Efforts by the Government of Kenya (GOK) to Encourage Investments
To start with, first-time home buyers have been exempted from Stamp-duty Act. The GOK is also taking positive steps in the direction of maximizing the industrialization in counties like Kisii. Furthermore, they are assisting in the growth of the service and manufacturing sectors along with education, medicine, finance, BPOs, and tourism to diversify and strengthen their economy. The Ministry of Education is putting special focus on skill development while improving the ease of doing business (by jumping up 21 spots to 93rd rank in 2017) and introducing the provision of grants to facilitate innovation.
Even the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s Global Enterprise Registration Network applauded KenInvest website as it earned a perfect rating for its information portal. This feat has only been claimed by 25 countries in the world. Basically, it provides the investors end-to-end information about all the nitty-gritty of making an investment in Kenya right from all the procedures involved to the payments one need to make while guiding him or her in case there is any problem or dispute. This enables the concerned investors to focus on the investment instead of worrying about the external factors that generally turn off the investors in the first place.
To make a favorable investment environment for international investors and for making Kenya a global investment hub, on the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the GOK has put the same conditions for local and foreign investors. Additionally, GOK even took a firm stand by repelling several bills and clauses as foreign investors resented the mandatory sharing of their profits and shareholding with residents of Kenya. To achieve the Kenya Vision 2030, along with the local government’s support, Kenyan diaspora, especially women, will play a crucial role.
Women Investing in Kenya…
Organizations like Kenya Women Investment Company (KWIC) are dedicatedly striving to increase women’s participation in property ownership and management. Although most of the shareholders are from Kenya (Nairobi, to be specific), wings of this all-women community are spread all across the globe including first world nations like the United States and the United Kingdom.
The trend of Chamas in Kenya, at present, comprises almost 3/4 of the entire Kenyan population. Most of the Chamas are non-regulated but some successful Chamas, after reaching a specific size, register themselves as ‘Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO). Some Chamas become banks and others incorporate themselves as Limited Companies. Although they operate under the ‘Cooperative Societies Act’, banks have been facing tough competition from them. This is the reason they are lobbying for legislation to eliminate Chama’s competitive advantages. For the nation as a whole, it is important to bring the Chamas’ funds (which is worth at least $4 billion) or as a matter of fact, every transaction into the formal economy. Although we are far from making that happen but we are on the right track to achieve that feat.
It is a matter of prestige for the Republic of Kenya that it overcame the political scuffle and unrest during the 2007 Kenya general elections. And today, the GOK is working hand-in-hand with the entire diaspora – men and women, living in and out of Kenya, as well as foreign investors, to make a better tomorrow for its present and the future generations. Therefore, it is the best time for women to be a part of this momentum and invest!