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HomebioRobert Masinde: The Man Behind Popular Loan App, Zenka

Robert Masinde: The Man Behind Popular Loan App, Zenka

By Isaac Blessing

Zenka, along with other mobile lending apps are increasingly becoming popular in the country as most Kenyans prefer them over traditional loaning systems. These lenders are reliable, convenient, fast and easy to access. All you need to do is download the app, register and apply for your first loan, unlike the banks where you have to go through a long and tedious process before getting approval.

In this article, WoK goes behind the scenes and brings you the story of Robert Masinde – the man behind the popular Zenka loan app.

Robert Masinde is a Kenyan businessman and co-founder of Zenka Finance which runs the Zenka mobile loan app.

Ivan Mbowa East Africa Regional Country Growth manager Tala), Allan Mukui (DLAK secretary and CEO Kuwazo), Robert Masinde (DLAK chairperson and CEO Zenka. |Photo| Courtesy|
Ivan Mbowa East Africa Regional Country Growth manager Tala), Allan Mukui (DLAK secretary and CEO Kuwazo), Robert Masinde (DLAK chairperson and CEO Zenka. |Photo| Courtesy|

The app’s name was coined from a combination of two words; Zen – which means achieving a balance and Kash – an African derivation of cash.

Background & Education

Masinde was born and raised in the western region of Kenya.

He attended the University of Nairobi and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree specializing in Finance. He later proceeded to the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom for his Master’s.

Career

Masinde boasts a wealth of experience working in Finance, having worked with CitiBank, Stanbic Bank and Standard Bank of South Africa.

After exiting the banking sector, Masinde ventured into the world of mobile lending and offered a competitive and customer friendly platform, Zenka.

“The interesting thing about Zenka Finance is that we provide options that traditional banks do not have. For instance, the latter requires people to have securities to take a loan. We make it collateral-free.

“Our entire proposition is based on information like the credit history of those who want to take out loans, what the person earns, what they do, their age. This is all fed into the appropriate technology that computes a score,” says Masinde who is the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Establishing Zenka Finance

The fintech company was established in December 2018 by Robert Masinde and his foreign friend Lucas Notopolous. The company’s main goal was to provide personal flexible loan services from Ksh500 up to Ksh20,000.

The borrower is expected to repay the loan within 61 days and for a first-time borrower, you get to repay the loan with no commission.

With just less than five years in the country, the mobile app has grown to become one of the most trusted and highly preferred among Kenyans.

What makes Zenka unique is the introduction of new interesting features which other apps do not offer. These include flexibility of the loans; whereby the client can decide on the loan’s maturity stage depending on their needs and users can also benefit from top up options, where borrowers can apply for an additional amount of money within their loan limit.

Since its inception, the company has issued over Ksh100 million in loans to Kenyans. Zenka services are available to android users through Google play store, apple and IOS users through App store and also through USSD for those people who do not own a smartphone.

The company is also the first to introduce an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot for customer service that can adequately respond to customer queries. The company is looking forward to setting up subsidiaries in Uganda, Rwanda and Ghana in the near future.

Founding Digital Lenders Association in Kenya (DLAK)

Masinde was among the founders of Digital Lenders Association in Kenya (DLAK). The association which was founded on June 6, 2019, seeks to promote best practices and drive a coordinated approach in addressing the emerging industry’s pressing issues. It brings together leading digital-first lenders and other stakeholders to represent and promote the common interest of digital lenders, consumers and the digital lending industry.

The association is open to all transparent digital lenders subject to signing and demonstrating the commitment to the DLAK Code of Conduct.

The association was founded with 12 companies including Zenka Finance, Tala, Alternative Circle, Kuwazo Capital, MyCredit, Okolea, LPesa, Kopacent, Finance Plan Limited and Mobile Financial Solutions (MFS).

Robert Masinde serves as the Chairperson of DLAK.