Interest in writing this piece was informed by an acquaintance addiction to instant mobile loans. If she hasn’t borrowed from Mshwari, then she has one with KCB mobi loan or the many other mobile loan lenders out there. But her liking for Tala Mkopo was the catalyst that got this writer researching on how it has became so popular with many Kenyans.
For beginners, Tala Mkopo was unveiled in 2014-then known as Mkopo Rahisi. And rahisi it is until you start getting remainders and veiled threats of being listed on CRB for the serial defaulters. Interestingly, as will be mentioned elsewhere in this article, less than 8 percent of Tala Mkopo borrowers are considered to be slow payers (a euphemism for defaulters).
How it started
Tala Mkopo was founded by Shivani Siroya who doubles as the company’s CEO. The idea of Tala Mkopo was conceived when Shivani worked with the UN Fund for Population in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her research, centered on microfinance solutions, established that small time business owners stagnated due to lack of credit.
She had interviews with 3,500 individuals and that’s how Tala Mkopo was borne. With her savings, US$30,000 (Kes3 million), Shivani risked it will to establish the technology driven company.
In March 2014 the app was unveiled, with 100 customers downloading the app on the first week. The popularity of the instant loan has since grown as no collateral is needed-attracting over 27 million people with the majority being repeat customers. Ms Siroya told Business Daily of her venture success:
“Repayment rates are at 92 per cent with eight per cent accounting for the slow payers. Interestingly, 95 per cent of our clients are repeat customers,” said Ms Siroya, a graduate of Columbia University.
Tala made use of Facebook to aggressively advertise the mobile phone application.
Tala Loans Products
The company offers the 30 day and 21 day loan at an interest rate of 15 per cent and 11 percent respectively.
Since its inception, Tala Mkopo has serviced 4.5 million plus loans which translates to kes25 billion (US$250 million) to its customers in Kenya, neighboring Tanzania, Mexico and Philippines.
From 10 employees, Tala Mkopo has grown to employ 220 Kenyans.
The graduate of Columbia University is not sitting on her laurels as she seeks to expand to other markets. This year, Tala managed to inject kes3.09 billion (US$30 million) capital from new and existing investors.
This will see the US based Tala venture into new markets-Ghana, Nigeria are some of the countries that have been mentioned.
New investors in Tala
US venture funds IVP (Jules Maltz joins Tala board of directors)
Female Founders Fund.
Tala is owned by Inventure
Founder cum CEO
Ms Shivani Siroya