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Economy

Women’s agriculture loan share doubles after easing title deed term

 Lucas Meso
Agricultural Finance Corporation managing director Lucas Meso. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) decision to widen debt security beyond land has more than doubled the share of loans borrowed by women.

AFC managing director Lucas Meso said women now account for 25 percent of Sh8 billion AFC loans, up from 11 percent in 2017.

This has helped reduce the share of AFC bad loans in which the Central Bank of Kenya data that show women default less on loans compared to men.

“We have had an uptake in loans from women because the collateral arrangements are not as stringent as before when we insisted on land as a collateral,” said Mr Meso in an interview Friday.

“Today, we basically look at issues such as cash flow, market and motor vehicles which can be used as collateral. We have noticed that women are less likely to default than men,” he said.

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The state-owned agriculture financier reviewed its collateral system two years ago to cut reliance on use of title deeds for loans access, opening a window for more female borrowers.

Less than two per cent of title deeds issued in Kenya since 2013 went to women, dashing hopes raised by constitutional reform granting them equal property rights.

“The percentage of women owning land has not improved that much,” Odenda Lumumba, national co-ordinator for the Kenya Land Alliance, an advocacy network, told news agency Reuters recently.

Women in the East African nation were allocated only 1.6 percent of about 10 million hectares of land that was registered between 2013 and 2017, KLA said. Land ownership in Kenya is usually vested in fathers who customarily pass it on to their sons, making it hard for women to secure rights except through their husbands.

The World Bank estimates that women run more than three-quarters of Kenya’s farms. But culture often takes precedence over the law, with men owning and controlling most of the land. This made it difficult for women to access agro loans tied to title deeds.

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