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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Kumekucha For President: Two Initiatives That Will Have Tremendous Impact On The Lives of Kenyans

The potential we have in Kenya today is vast and yet it has never been effectively exploited and remains idle. Past governments, including the present one has been too busy trying to survive to focus on harnessing this potential for the good of ordinary Kenyans.

I can hear you asking me the question; what makes you so sure that your administration (if elected) will not be busy trying to survive like all the others before you?

To answer that question we must understand what it is that has put past governments in that position and a perfect example is the current Narc-government which came to power with massive goodwill from the people of Kenya. But the people in that government were actually the same people from the previous Kanu regime who jumped ship at the last moment (most of them) so the new government which we had so much hope on, slipped into the same old habits.

Had this government come anywhere near meeting the expectations of the people, not even the controversial memorandum of understanding would have been a threat to it.

But let us not dwell so much on the past and previous mistakes because this is one presidential candidate with a clear agenda and vision and a clear idea of how to get there.

There are two areas I am going to focus on where a little creativity and effort from a new government with new ideas can make a huge difference and a major impact on the lives of most Kenyans.

This is on the two issues of ordinary Kenyans owning houses and the so-called hawker problem (which I don't see as a problem but a major opportunity to turn around the fortunes of our country).

Very few Kenyans today own homes. The situation has been made worse by the disappearance of the middle class in Kenya. Various so-called low-income housing projects have been attempted in the past with little success. Yet a viable low-income mortgage plan is very possible and can have a tremendous impact on the economy both in terms of creating jobs (the main focus of my vision and everything that I propose) and also in improving the quality of life of the majority of Kenyans.

A national mortgage plan for low income Kenyans is no pipe dream. Not with the available creative mortgage plans that are working in other parts of the world today. Let me focus on two particular ones that can help us create one of our own.

We have the interest only mortgage that is fairly common in the United Kingdom, where the capital is not repaid throughout the term. Instead regular contributions are made to a separate investment plan designed to build up a lump sum to repay the mortgage at maturity. This arrangement is also called the investment-backed mortgage.

The other highly creative mortgage plan is where today, older borrowers in western countries qualify for a mortgage where neither the capital nor the interest is repaid. The interest is rolled up with the capital, increasing the debt each year. It is finally repaid when the borrower dies and the property is sold (or when they move into a home for the old). Legally the lender cannot lay claim to any additional assets if the sale does not repay the debt in full. This is usually covered by the heavy insurance that goes with this mortgage. In the event that the sale yields more than is owed, the money goes to he next of kin (if the borrower has passed on.) This kind of mortgage is called a reverse mortgage, lifetime mortgage or equity release mortgage, depending on the country.

What I propose in Kenya is a hybrid system that is a cross between the two for low-income earners. Today we have various investment opportunities that are bringing in very high yields (actually higher than in many other parts of the world). This can be of great help in creating a project that would allow a very large number of ordinary low income earning Kenyans to acquire their own homes by having mortgage plans where only the interest is repaid and the principal is taken care of by a special investment pool. Once we have a vibrant mortgage market, it will then be easy to handle defaulters in such a system (critical in keeping the project self-sustaining and moving) where their houses can be sold and if the price does not cover the initial mortgage loan, it can be met by insurance.

Just a little creativity in mortgage financing can unlock the huge potential and create a vibrant new construction industry and related services that will create lots of new jobs as well as enable many ordinary Kenyans to own their own homes.

Hawkers are considered a nuisance and every previous government despite paying lip service to the promotion of the so called "jua kali" industry has viewed them as such. The really ironical injustice here is the excuse government always has that it is protecting taxpayers against hawkers (who are supposedly tax evaders). Well we now know that very few of the mainstream businesses referred to as taxpayers actually pay their taxes. They are in fact the biggest tax evaders. Only recently we have heard some shocking claims about Nakumatt, the biggest private supermarket chain in East and Central Africa.

Then there is the well-known fact that government collects a lot of revenue from VAT which every citizen pays, including the hawkers. There is in fact a bigger impact on revenue collection when more Kenyans are generating income to make more purchases and thus pay more VAT.

Hawkers are a national asset that can be used to rapidly increase wealth and prosperity in our beloved country. I propose to do two things to make this happen.

Firstly I intend to dramatically expand and encourage the ongoing business incubation projects in the country. A business incubator as the term suggests, is where small businesses are accommodated in a special business park for a brief period of time where facilities are made available to "incubate" the infant business and give it a chance to grow sufficiently enough to stand on its' own.

It is not realistic to expect a 100% success rate, but even a very low success rate will move a good number of small businesses from one man hawker operations to prosperous small businesses able to employ one or two persons. A huge number of new jobs can be created in this way.

Secondly we should actively promote programs in all major cities in the country where certain main streets of the city are closed to traffic over weekends and small traders given access to the "central business district" market to sell their wares and practice their entrepreneurial skills. Extra revenue can be collected by charging them a small daily fee for this privilege.

I am not naïve to think that they will be no obstacles or problems in the radical ideas that I am suggesting here. Every successful enterprise must be prepared for setbacks here and there before they finally land on the rails to big success. In fact it will make a big and refreshing change from the past to see a little government failure as it works towards improving the lot of ordinary Kenyans. In fact Kenyans would have been more understanding today if our past governments had failed while making genuine efforts to improve the quality of life of ordinary Kenyans. Nothing like that has happened, instead past governments have helped individuals amass vast wealth at the expense of the ordinary Kenyan.

We must change this now, before it is too late. My passionate appeal today goes out to young Kenyans and older Kenyans who are still capable of dreaming, because the reality of success always emerges from dreams and not skepticism. I urge you to support this initiative by Kumekucha to make a difference and to have a genuine fresh start for our beloved Kenya. (please see my special appeal).

My Special Appeal by Kumekucha

Dear fellow Kenyans, recent events in our country have clearly proved this blogger correct in predicting the worst for Kenya in 2007 where we will see Kenyan voters being hoodwinked again by the very same people who cheated us in 2002. The people who took our dreams and crushed them, making us all look very foolish.

The only hope we have in stopping them is in a younger generation of new leaders who have not been in politics before taking over power in Kenya. The fact that you are reading this clearly shows that you are of like mind.

We cannot just sit and watch things happening without taking any action. We have debated and talked enough in this forum and elsewhere, we need to start doing something. Believe it or not, the small effort YOU are capable of making can make a huge difference.

I am going to suggest just one thing you can actively do today that will make a difference. You can put the following brief statement at the end of each email you send out to friends and associates. Even better you can make it your permanent email signature. It will increase traffic to this forum where we are selling nothing but a better and more prosperous future for Kenya. Keep visiting this site to participate in our next decisive move.

Wakenya, Kumekucha, Vijana Kumekucha, let us grab destiny and change things in Kenya. Visit, NOW and start playing an active role in changing things in Kenya in 2007.

I take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your patriotic action. Thank you for loving your country and may the almighty God help us all in our efforts to save it.

Previous Campaign Posts By This Presidential Candidate

Kumekucha launches Presidential campaign

Kumekucha’s Presidential Campaign: We Need One Priority, We Need Lots Of Creativity

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