The number of divorces directly attributed to Kenya Women Microfinance Bank dropped by 22% in the year 2020, a positive outcome of the pandemic that had gone unnoticed.
The 2020 social statement from the Microfinance showed that the number of divorces that can be directly attributed to KWFT dropped by 3,122, from 14,191 to 11,069, the first decline in the number of cases since KWFT was established.
“We note that the number of our clients who divorced due to family conflicts attributed to our loans has gone down. This is a positive outcome. Since we started, we did not seek to break families. It was just an unacceptable outcome from our operations.” Said the CEO.
The Microfinance Bank which predominantly serves women has been trying to shed the tag of ‘marriage breaker’ due to the number of marriages that have been broken over unpaid loans. While the divorces are informal and do not end up in court, the actual number is a said to be higher than the reported one.
Our investigators established that the bank has managed to entice many women to take up loan without the knowledge or the consent of their husbands. A number of these start businesses which often collapse, but they have to pay the loan. With no other tangible assets except the family property, bank staff raid the family home and cart off anything that can be disposed off. This leads to separation and divorces.
Mwangi, a resident of Nyandarua knows this too well. “I did not even know that my wife had taken a loan. They just came one day and started unroofing my house and selling the iron sheets to scrap metal dealers who were on site. They picked household items, and even ate some left over ugali in the house, all in the name of some money that my wife owed them. I just told my wife to leave and never come back.”
Another of their victim says that she took the loan because they were told to take, and cannot remember what she did with the money. When they threatened to come to her home, she just vanished from the home and went to work as a househelp in Mombasa. The children are with their grandmother.
“When they are asking you to take they loan they come smiling. After that, they change face completely. They do not laugh. Mwalimu comes with threats and ready to dispossess you even your dignity. I had to run and leave away everything, including my family.”
Decline in Divorce
KWFT now hopes that the number of divorces will keep declining in the coming years, even after Covid-19 comes to an end.
“Covid-19 made people stay at home, and thus a wife could not take a loan without the consent of the husband. This meant less friction when the loan is not paid. We are looking for ways to keep up the trend even after the end of Covid-19.”