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Beware of fake NGO dangling free cash

Monday August 19 2019

Fraud

Many Kenyans have fallen victim to fraudsters. ILLUSTRATION | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MARK AGUTU
By MARK AGUTU
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WINNIE ATIENO
By WINNIE ATIENO
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An organisation that some years ago left lives of thousands of young Kenyans shattered after failing to offer them the jobs it pledged is back at it again.

And like a mutating monster, the agency has shifted from the hapless, jobless youth to women groups.

The bait is a mouth-watering offer of non-secured and interest-free loans of between Sh100,000 and Sh1 million for a group.

For this cadre of Kenyans that is starved of funds and formal credit, it is an irresistible offer, a windfall of sorts.

Authorities have since warned that East Africa Sub-Sahara Safe Promotion Foundation-International (SSASPF) is not registered to operate as an NGO in the country.

The shadowy outfit has no local address or contacts on its letterhead.

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An entity awash in money it claims to be readily willing to doll out to groups has no significant online presence.

YOUTH DUPED

Contacted, NGO Coordination Board chief executive Franklin Mutuma Nkanata said the organisation is not registered with the board.

“We have checked and found that it does not feature in our records, so it is not registered to operate as an NGO. It may be operating out there as a different entity,” Mr Mutuma said.

This is the same verdict the board returned in 2015 when the organisation called out young, jobless Kenyans in their thousands to a meeting at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, with a promise of well-paying jobs.

“It is illegal and criminal. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations should look into the matter,” Mr Brown Kutswa from the Ministry of Devolution was quoted as saying in the Business Daily.

The board fell under the ministry at the time but was later moved to the Interior Ministry during the tenure of chief executive Fazul Mahamed.

This notwithstanding, the organisation continues with its frenzied recruitment of women groups, with the same lofty promises.

QUICK FIX

From Nyanza, to Coast and Rift Valley, groups have been jostling to enlist, lured by the prospect of getting easy money for their income generating activities.

The conditions are that they should belong to a registered group, preferably with table banking; records of past group meetings and a well-laid out plan on how they intend to invest the money.

To be entitled to the loans, every group is expected to pay for registration, with a member parting with Sh120.

Should it collect this amount from the women groups that have expressed interest, the organisation will rake in millions of shillings from registration fee alone.

The registration started in June and the first disbursement was to be made at the beginning of this month. The loan repayment was to start in October.

Three group officials — chairperson, secretary and treasurer — are to collect the money in cash.

The repayment is however to be done through a bank account, to be revealed at the time of disbursement of the money.

NO FEEDBACK

However, no group confesses to have received the much-awaited funding so far.

And officials of the group who convened the awareness and recruitment meetings on short notice and received the registration fees are not around to answer the questions.

“We were assured that after registering, we will get the money from the beginning of this month but there has been no word on the same. Some of us are beginning to wonder if it is a hoax,” a member of one of the groups in Siaya, who asked not to be named, said.

Instead of the much-awaited loan, the groups in Siaya were asked to nominate two officials to attend a meeting in Vihiga County for “training”.

“We heard that the officials have been called for a meeting before money is given out. We are waiting to see what happens next,” she added.

These writers reached out to one official whose phone number was in one of the registration forms given out in Mombasa, with one posing as a member of a group interested in the funding.

WORK IN PROGRESS

The official, Ms Nancy Atieno, was evasive, saying she was sick. She asked the writer to get back to her on Monday. “Let’s talk on Monday on anything to do with the funds.”

When another reporter called the same line, it was picked by a different person who identified herself as Lavender.

“I think you were registered by Nancy but currently, we are in Nakuru and the funds are yet to be remitted to your accounts. Please be patient. Our officials are still finalising with members in Nakuru so that they also can benefit,” she said.

Lavender asked the reporter to confirm the name of her “chama” and the agent who registered her into the organisation. She promised to call later but never did.