Mistrust pushes fishermen to bank in mattresses
3 months ago, 14 Mar 11:30
People and banking may be old talk in Kenya today, but not among the fisher communities on the shores of Lake Victoria. Tom Oginga, a fisherman at Kisegi Beach in Suba South, earns about Sh1,500 daily from fishing. He has no bank account. BANK His bank, he told us, is sometimes under his mattress. Other times, he keeps the money in his pocket, churning it out from time to time, often without a budget or plan. Mr Oginga, a veteran fisherman now in his 50s, is not bothered by the existence of mini microfinances and bank agents in the nearest trading centres. His first problem, it appears, is distance. His second, is credibility: Will these guys flee with my money? Or will they be around when I need them? "I do not trust small community banks and their agents in our beaches. I feel my money is safe when I deposit it in a commonly-known bank," said Mr Oginga, as he massages his greying beard. Many fishermen along the beaches of Lake Victoria said they once had their fingers burned when some small banks collapsed with their money. They did not state which banks. "We have a nasty history about these community banks and their agents. We do not trust them because it reaches a time when they disappear with our money," the old man added. MARKET Despite the growing population of fishermen and residents depending on Lake Victoria for their livelihoods, financial institutions have not fully exploited this market. Banks have had their agents in trading centres along Lake Victoria such as Nyandiwa, Magunga and Sindo in Homa Bay County and Misori, Lwanda Kotieno, Usenge and Uhanya in Siaya County. But folks in the interior say travelling 20 kilometres or more to visit a bank is just too much for them. Fishermen along the beaches of the lake who spoke to the Nation said there is need for financial institutions to take advantage of the growing economy of the fishing industry. Take for instance Nyandiwa trading centre in Suba South, Homa Bay County, where about 340,000 members of the fishing community live and depend on the lake but there is no bank in the area. Fishermen at the trading centre have asked financial institutions to set up their branches in the region to cushion them against financial wastage resulting from misuse of their hard-earned money. SAVINGS William Onditi and John Abuya, officials of beach units in Suba South, said the fishermen have no banks that can offer them a platform to save their money. "Fishermen do not trust regional micro-finances cropping up along the beaches. They need banks that can guarantee the safety of their money," said Mr Onditi. Mr Onditi said two bank agents in Nyandiwa trading centre had robbed fishermen of Sh2 million last year, making fishermen to shun them. "Two agents of well-known banks swindled fishermen of their life savings last year. We cannot trust agents anymore because we cannot verify their authenticity," said Mr Onditi. ...
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