The making of Jijenge Credit

Peter Macharia Kamau didn’t think he had the confidence and gusto to start up a company. However, he ended up quitting his well-paying job and going for it. Now, Jijenge Credit Limited is fast becoming a household name in non-deposit taking Micro Finance Lending business. The banker shares his thoughts with Financial Fortune (Media) on tapping into your ambitions and using them as a driving force.

When a seasoned banker turned entrepreneur Peter Macharia Kamau sat down to a hard talk with his seniors at the National Bank of Kenya (NBK), part of him wasn’t there. So, Macharia, a financial professional with over 25 years of practice, gathered sufficient bravery to break the uncomfortable news of his intentions to leave the bank, much to the dismay of his employer and colleagues.

“It was not an easy decision. I initially had my doubts and fears as you would expect. I was leaving behind a well-paying job, a company car and all that. But still, I wanted freedom. And after evaluating my performance in my previous roles, and meeting my year-on-year (YoY) targets, I felt it was becoming a comfort zone and therefore it was time to move on to something else,” he opens up during an interview in his office.

The reserved father of four who worked with numerous lending institutions, started off as a bank clerk at a tender age of 20, and climbing up the ladder to serve in several flagship departments in sales, marketing, credit, finance and operations before calling it a day in early 2014.

Initial stages

It took him just a few months to set up his new venture, and in the end, the successful founder’s pursuit of his dreams paid off.

In mid-2014, from his voluntary retirement package, he founded Jijenge Credit Limited, a Swahili word that means ‘build yourself’ which is a credit company whose flagship product is Micro Credit Finance in Logbook Financing. With an initial capital of just Sh1million, part of his ‘golden handshake,’ Macharia used the funds to fuel his dream.

“In the credit department your targets are very specific. My performance in terms of targets was very consistent with an upward trajectory. So having traced clients’ lending habits and how they were investing the borrowed loans, this lead me to think that there I could become a business owner myself,” says a fervent Church lover.

Jijenge Credit was his first stab into entrepreneurship, a gamble he admits paid off.

“I think it was a combination of being street-smart and a bit of fluke as well as being knowledgeable of the industry I was venturing into,” he narrates, adding, “The prospect of growing and improving kept me moving forward with the business. And after experimenting in Westlands – where we first set up, we decided to move to the Central Business District (CBD) at Town House Building owing to the fact that the initial location posed serious challenge to our customers.”

Expansion plans

After just four-and – half years of existence, Macharia says Jijenge Credit, a company he fondly refers to his ‘baby’ is not about to sit on its laurels. The company presently employs about 15 staff with plans a foot to double the figure in the coming weeks as it embarks on an expansion drive of its second town branch in a month’s time to cater for the growing demand from its certified customers.

“I would credit the company’s growth to top notch customer service and trust. This has given us the ambition to expand our territory,” he says, while attributing his success to God, discipline, resilience, consistency and knowledge in the industry.

Jijenge Credit today has over 5,000 active clients with a collective clientele of over 20,000 and a five-year future target to expand into a deposit-taking financial powerhouse.

The firm’s greatest specialty is mobile lending, which is efficient and effective that is tapping into the demand for microfinance products among SMEs who are the company’s main client.

Jijenge Credit targets clients who are unable to access financial services from banks and those seeking loans approval over a short period of time within one hour.

The company specializes in Title Deed Loans, Check-off loans, School emergency loans, import duty finance, LPO financing, bid bonds as well as asset financing among others. The company has tracking technicians and valuers who assess an applicant’s assets before a loan is issued.

Challenges

His greatest challenge he says is hiring qualified staff as the company has to constantly enroll some employees into refresher courses and other trainings.

About Peter Macharia Kamau

-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Jijenge Credit, a micro-lending Kenyan company

-A banker by Profession with over 25years experience

-Married with four adorable girls

-An Alumni of Kenya Methodist and Strathmore Universities with Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, MBA Master of Business Administration and Enterprise Development Programme respectively.

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