The Credit-only microfinance institution banks on excellent customer service and short turnaround time for loan disbursement
The microfinance industry in Kenya has been registering very fast growth in the recent past. Many new players have joined the highly competitive industry to the benefit of customers who now have a wide range of innovative products to choose from in their quest to achieve financial success.
Among them is Milhan Access Capital limited, a credit-only microfinance company that was established in 2015 by a group of like-minded brains.
“A gap was identified in the market where some people are not well served by the mainstream commercial banks,” says Michael Bitok, the company’s General Manager. These people, who include small medium enterprises, importers as well as those who deal with fast moving goods, require urgent cash to address their working capital immediate needs. Banks however tend to take too long to process loans and therefore are unable to address their customers’ urgent needs thus creating a funding gap in the market.
“For Milhan Access Capital, the turnaround time for loan processing is 8 hours as long as the client has provided all the required documents.”
As a credit-only MFI, the company does not mobilize deposits from its customers. It therefore relies on funding from shareholders, other financial institutions and investors for money to lend to its customers.
In just four years, Milhan Access Capital has grown by leaps and bounds to become one of the leading credit only MFI in the country. The company’s vision is to be the market leader in the provision of microfinance and related financial services in Kenya.
It started off as a small organization with a small office in Westlands with a team of three people. Today however, the organization prides itself on having created employment to over 25 people.
“We have also seen our balance sheet double every year, while our customer base has grown to over 250 clients,” reveals Mr Bitok.
Headquartered at Azure Tower along Lantana Road in Westlands, the company recently opened another branch in the central business district (CBD) of Nairobi as part of its expansion strategy. It also plans to open new branches in Meru, Nakuru and Mombasa in the near future.
Given its commendable growth over the years, clearly, this is a milestone that Milhan Access Capital is set to achieve sooner than projected.
Milhan Access Capital has positioned itself as a customer centric and market led microfinance institution. It offers a wide range of products and services to its customers in the most efficient way and according to their needs.
To start with, log book loans make up to 90 percent of the loan book. “We finance 50 percent of the logbook value from a minimum of Ksh.100, 000 up to a maximum of Ksh.2, 000,000.” The loans are advanced on the same day after perfection and charging of the log book.
Second, is invoice discounting which entails providing instant cash that is tied up in outstanding invoices. The company finances up to 80 percent of the value of the invoice. Currently, it works with select suppliers such as supermarkets, but the General Manager discloses that lately, customers are required to provide additional security.
Third, is cheque discounting whereby clients get quick cash against post- dated cheques from a reputable entity. The company finances up to 80 percent of the value of the cheque and the product has a repayment period of three months. In case a customer pays within the stipulated period of time, the remaining value of the cheque is given back to the customer.
Finally, is the import duty finance, a short term loan facility usually for a duration of 30 days or less extended to motor vehicle importers in order to facilitate faster settlement of duty charges at Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and other bodies to avoid demurrage. Mr Bitok says that the product is risky since the log book is normally not yet issued by the time the loan is being advance. The company has nevertheless managed to control the risk by using their own agent to clear the goods. This facility may be converted to a Log book finance facility at the expiry of one month, if the customer so wishes.
Milhan Access Capital recently set up Milhan Insurance Agency in order to serve the insurance needs of its customers more effectively. The agency is regulated by the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) and the company has partnered with leading insurance companies to deliver quality service and for claim settlement.
Why Milhan Access Capital?
The company’s DNA is defined by its core values which aim to ensure excellent service is delivered to all customers.
This has not only seen Milhan grow its customer base, but has also seen it retain its existing clients. In fact, majority of its customers come from referrals from existing ones. Besides, most of the customers who have borrowed the short term facilities offered by the Company have retained their security with the Company since the company was established. This way, their loan request get processed within a few hours.
Most remarkably, the company communicates openly to its customers to ensure that there are no hidden charges or information in relation to the loans, charges, repayment dates or repayment amounts. This is important considering the heightened competition in the industry and to avoid future disputes with the customers. The Company ensure that the customers make informed decisions at all the times and thus avoid unnecessary burden that may be caused by lack of all the information necessary to make a good credit decision.
‘’We have set up a Consultancy arm of the business that deals with personal financial planning that can be notoriously complicated. This is after realizing that some customer seeking for funding will need professional independent financial advice in order to avoid future financial distress. We give this advice in most case before we provide funding’’, Says the General Manager. The Company also provides specialist advice to individuals and SMEs seeking tailored analysis and recommendations on feasible business strategies and investment decisions. The right financial and business strategy can assist a business especially SMEs in ensuring they have sustainable growth and are protected from downside business risks.
The Kenyan financial sector has experienced major boost in the past few years with the rise of a viable microfinance industry that plays a major role in economic growth. According to Mr Bitok, the sector contributes greatly to the needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who require urgent working capital. The need is huge and that’s what companies like Milhan Access Capital seek to satisfy.
Sharing his sentiments regarding the capping of interest rates, the General Manager says it has resulted in a general slowdown in the financial industry. Lending to small and medium enterprises has dwindled, resulting in business and cash flow slowdown.
“We are however happy that there is a review of the capping rate law. SMEs will be able to access credit and there will be quick exchange of money and that’s what creates business,” he observes.