JAMES KARUGU’S CORDIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH VISIONFUND BEARS FRUITS

James Karugu at his cowshed.
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James’ two-decade-walk with VisionFund catapults him to the realm of financial prosperity

By Joseph Macharia

Not exactly an overnight rags-to-riches story, but James Karugu’s journey with VisionFund is inspiringly grand. From living in a dilapidated mud house with financial struggles to  his current status –  not only owning a beautiful house, but also a magnificent five-storey apartment and  a thriving dairy farm –  his story is a testament to the positive impact of grass root financing.

Based in Kiwanja in Kahawa West, Karugu has grown by leaps and bounds. He first came into contact with VisionFund in 2004. By then, it was   known as Kadet. Harbouring big dreams, he immediately hitched his wagon to the organization. Together with fifteen others, they formed a self-help group which they named Funzo. Over time some members left. Currently, they are eight members. Kiragu is the chair person.

Financial literacy

Group members were required to save a given amount of money, after which they could be given loans. VisionFund has a tradition of conducting training programmes for organized groups which boosts their financial literacy. Karugu took all the lessons taught to heart. “Our teacher taught us that, when you take a loan you should use it to buy assets or items that will generate for you income,” he recollects adding that those programmes helped him a lot.

James Karugu receiving VisionFund-branded T-shirt from Daisy Kipyegon, relationship officer at Kariobangi branch.

Karugu’sfirst loan was Kshs. 30,000. As it would turn out, the loan marked a new chapter in his life. “I started farming with my first loan; I bought one dairy cow and repaid the money in six months,” Karugu recollects. With passage of time, his loan limits grew – something he capitalized to the fullest. He gradually progressed from a Kshs. 30,000-loan, to Kshs.  60,000 until he got to the Kshs.  200,000 limit.

Given the ever swelling demand for milk, he used the funds to buy   more dairy cows. By the time he had reached four dairy   cows, he had already employed one person to lend a hand. Coincidentally, when his herd increased to ten dairy cows, he took his tenth loan and renovated the cowshed.   He now boosts of over twenty cows employing four permanent workers. On average, he milks two hundred   litres per day from thirteen cows. The rest are expectant.

ELEGANT: James Karugu’s magnificent apartment that he has built courtsey of VisionFund.

Once he took a loan of Kshs.  200,000, Karugu embarked on building a proper house for himself to improve his family’s standard of living. He brought down   his mud house and put up a permanent one.

Steady income

With his dairy farm up and running, a steady stream of income started to come in.  Combined with a  Kshs. 200,000  loan  from VisionFund,  he  began to build ten single-rooms . He gradually repaid the loan on time. Now with two sources of income –   dairy farming and rentals – he applied for a Kshs. 500,000-loan which was granted by VisionFund.

He set about to build a five-storey apartment with a capacity of thirty units which he would later name Ebenezer Apartment. The first loan went into setting up the foundation. Progressively, he reached a limit of one million. Slow but sure, he would take a loan and add a floor till the building reached the fifth floor.

Currently, twenty units are fully occupied while   the remaining ten are awaiting finishing touches. Prior to taking his current loan, he had taken another one in 2022 which he used to buy a truck to help transport cow feed and pasture. He expects to take yet another loan to complete the remaining units. “I expect we will continue walking together with VisionFund to complete my project,” he says with an air of confidence.

Financial discipline

One of the character traits that has contributed to   his success is financial discipline. In his words: “The secret of using loans effectively is to plan for projects that will generate   income and having a repayment plan.” He recounts that all the members of his   self-help group have grown financially.  “ Most of  them   have started their own businesses and even schooled their kids,” he says. “Nowadays,  you can’t depend solely on salary to grow, you need to access capital  like the  one provided by VisionFund to initiate income generating projects. I appeal to my friends who want to grow to join VisionFund,” he adds.

Left to Right: Geofrey Lotini, administration, James Karugu, Daisy Kipyegon, relationship officer and Patricia Kuria, communications lead.

His current relationship officer, Daisy Kipyegon says Karugu has not only been a good client but has also provided superb leadership to Funzo self-help group. “He is a very loyal client who   pays   his loans on time. We look forward to growing with him,” she remarks.

Through VisionFund, Karugu has been able to finance studies for his eldest child who is an university graduate. The other two are in high and primary school.”Once through with servicing the current loan, I am planning to expand my cowshed and add more cows,” he ends.

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