So, I was browsing through business opportunities and came across a perfectly advertised tender that I actually qualified for! It turns out my company met all the mandatory requirements to competitively bid for the said tender.
As I read through it, one of the requirements a bit further into the document was to get a bank guarantee. This gave me a bit of pause but not too much since, after all, my bank has incessantly been plastering ads all over social media and everywhere on the internet about how they have great products for women in business. In fact, they have gone a step further and packaged a product specifically for the “sisters”.
Needless to say, that was the exact account I opened when I came across the ads showing how ladies from the likes of “Mama Mboga” had grown from it all the way to some of my favorite media personalities. As a matter of fact, you may be familiar with one who is constantly being accused of having a lot of “Umama”, despite being a man. But I digress…..
I called up my bank and after being on hold for a full 12 minutes – thank God for those Safaricom offers where you buy airtime and get 50% more. I had bought airtime worth 150 bob and got an extra 75 so I figured I had about 10 more minutes before my airtime ran out. I quickly explained my need or a bank guarantee in order to meet the requirements for the said tender.
After listening patiently to my request, the lady asked me to hold as she transferred me to the person who would assist me. By now I was in panic mode since I knew unless the other person was available immediately, I would very quickly run out of airtime and calling back meant going through the almost 16-minute process all over again and I was not prepared for that. After three rings, the initial lady who answered the call asked me to call back after a few minutes as she was on another call.
Through sheer determination and access to “okoa jahazi” (Pun intended), I called back and this time managed to get a hold of the right person. I went through the same drill of explaining my situation and what I needed. After a pause, she asked for my account name and number. I waited with bated breath as she presumably checked my account.
After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality, must have been about two minutes, she took a deep breath and told me that I only qualify for a secured bank guarantee. My heart skipped a beat and I started smiling but since she did not deliver the news with much enthusiasm, I asked her what that meant.
To cut a long story short, it means that if I need a bank guarantee of 1 million, I need to deposit the same amount in my account. Wait, what? How about the tailor-made solutions you have been advertising? Well madam, she said, your account activity has been very slow so the bank cannot offer you an unsecured bank guarantee. It is the company policy.
I was deflated, but before I got off the phone with her, I posed a question for her to share with the policy makers. If a person does not have access to the tools to help them make money, how is it possible to take advantage of such opportunities to grow our financial portfolios? As long as there is no flexibility in such policies, our accounts will keep reading negatives.
Until such a time a clever person sees the vast number of struggling entrepreneurs and mitigates this gap, growth will only remain for those that have connections.
I have another story of how I missed financing for my project by an overseas firm, all because of said bank guarantee from local banks. That one is still raw though, but one day I will share my experience. Basically, you need money to show that you can get access to borrow money. Simple huh?
Good day my fellow Dadas!!