Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe’s EcoCash and Steward Bank business units have ramped up their efforts to help cushion the public from the harsh economic impact of COVID-19 by extending KaShagi small loans to millions of their customers.
EcoCash and Steward Bank have teamed up to launch the instant, short-term microloans, designed to bail out customers in moments where they run out of cash amid the national lockdowns intended to arrest the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The super quick microloan application and disbursement process takes place in under 60 seconds. To access loans, EcoCash customers dial *151# on their phones, while Steward Bank customers dial *236#.
Cassava Smartech chief commercial officer Givemore Jojo said the microloans were expected to help customers meet their pressing needs at a time the country is battling a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the past 10 years we have maintained our commitment of transforming lives by creating opportunities for all Zimbabweans to uplift their lives. To that end, we have sought to make a meaningful impact in the markets we serve by solving problems that our society faces using technology and innovation,” he said.
“KaShagi microloans are our own way of helping our millions of EcoCash and Steward Bank customers to make ends meet in these unprecedented times of crisis.”
Zimbabwe has spent close to a year under a national lockdown, albeit at different levels of the lockdown, as the government battles to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, that has affected over 34 300 people in Zimbabwe and killed over 1 300 people in the country since March last year. The impact of the COVID-19-induced lockdowns has been to reduce the potential number of fatalities from the deadly disease.
But an unintended consequence has been to inflict serious economic pain on hundreds of thousands of small traders and individuals in the informal sector, which employs millions of Zimbabweans. Jojo said KaShagi was targeted at these sectors.
“KaShagi is especially targeted at the millions of our customers in the informal sector who find themselves hard-pressed for cash during these trying times,” Jojo said, adding that anyone can, however, access KaShagi.
To get a KaShagi loan, Steward Bank customers simply need to dial *236#, select option 3 (Nano Loans), then select option 1 – KaShagi and finally choose option 1 – apply for KaShagi.
The customer’s pre-approved loan amount will be displayed, and they can immediately select the amount they want to borrow and once the process is complete the funds are deposited into their bank account.
For EcoCash customers, the process is almost the same; they just need to Dial *151#, enter their Ecocash PIN, select option 6 — EcoCash Save and select option 3 — EcoCash KaShagi.
Customers should then Select option 1 (request loan) and almost instantly get their loan. The same menu also gives the option to repay the loan using EcoCash, and to check their loan credit (how much loan you qualify for).
Jojo said the loan limit per customer was based on the usage pattern of that particular customer (their usage of Cassava Smartech services such as EcoCash), adding “the more you use our services and transact on our platforms, the more your creditworthiness for the loans”.
The loan application for KaShagi on EcoCash is instant. An SMS will be sent to the customer with a repayment due date.
Jojo said the microloans were interest free, and only carry a 15% handling fee. If someone defaults on their repayment, they are charged a 5% penalty.