Kenya is a borrowing nation, and recent statistics prove that. As of November 2022, CBK confirmed that 14 million accounts were listed for payment default on digital money-lending apps, and it doesn’t surprise that a good number of them had defaulted on their M-Shwari loan.
Since launching in November 2012, M-Shwari has grown to become one of the leading digital lenders in the country. Perhaps that’s due to their heavy backing by mobile money giant Safaricom or maybe it could be due to the savings options it offers, which I’ll discuss.
So, while there are many lenders, including the government-driven Hustlers Fund, M-Shwari remains a top contender. M-Shwari is ‘always a life changer’ for its customers with a financial emergency.
I’ve used the words ‘always a life changer’ in quotes because it’s not always like that. In most cases, borrowing messes up one’s life. There’s no exception, as a loan is a loan, and whoever borrows must pay.
That aside, here’s what you’ll learn about M-Shwari in this recent post:
- What is M-Shwari?
- How does M-Shwari work?
- How do you qualify for an M-Shwari loan?
- How do you activate M-Shwari?
- How do you get an M-Shwari loan?
- How do you check the M-Shwari loan limit?
- How do you pay M-Shwari?
- How do you unlock the M-Shwari limit?
- Why is your M-Shwari limit zero?
- What are the M-Shwari loan charges?
- What are the consequences of not paying the M-Shwari loan?
- Is the M-Shwari loan worth it?
- If not M-Shwari, then what?
Let’s dive in!
In a rush? Check out an overview of M-Shwari in the table below.
M-Shwari Loan Overview
|Provider||Safaricom and NCBA Bank|
|Loan Limit||Ksh 100 – Ksh 50,000|
|Loan Processing Fee||9%|
|Repayment Period||30 days|
|Route of Access||MPESA|
|Penalty||An additional 9% over the next 30 days|
|M-Shwari Contacts||Call (0722 000 000), Toll-Free Prepay (Call 100), Toll-Free Post Pay (Call 200), Facebook and Twitter (@SafaricomPLC|
What is M-Shwari?
M-Shwari is a mobile loan and savings service Safaricom and NCBA Bank offer. M-Shwari was launched in November 2012 and currently provides loans from Ksh 100 to Ksh 50,000 and, in some cases, up to Ksh 1 million.
These loans attract an interest of 9% per annum, where 7.5% is the loan fee while the remaining 1.5% is the excise duty.
M-Shwari loans generally have a 30-day repayment period, and if you don’t beat the deadline, M-Shwari extends the repayment period by another 90 days but imposes an additional 9% charge.
How Does M-Shwari Work?
M-Shwari works both as a mobile money lender and a savings account. As a mobile lender, M-Shwari allows you to apply for quick MPESA loans of Ksh 100 – Ksh 50,000, depending on eligibility, and you’ve up to 30 days to repay.
All its loans attract a 9% interest, and if you fail to pay before the deadline, the loan will attract a further facilitation fee that equals the initial processing fee (9%).
As a savings product, M-Shwari offers you a variety of ways to save, such as the regular M-Shwari Deposit Account, M-Shwari Lock Savings Account, and the M-Shwari 52-Week Challenge. I’ll share more about these savings options later.
How to Qualify for M-Shwari Loan
M-Shwari has specific requirements for anyone wishing to apply for a loan. Here are the minimum requirements:
- Be an active MPESA customer (at least six months)
- Save with M-Shwari (your loan limit may be zero if you don’t)
- Have good CRB standing
- Have a Kenyan ID or passport or an Alien ID
- Actively use MPESA and Safaricom services such as buying credit and bundles, and other subscriptions
How to Activate M-Shwari
Once you meet the M-Shwari eligibility requirements, you can activate M-Shwari. Doing so will allow you to apply for a loan if you qualify.
Here’s how to activate M-Shwari on your phone:
- Go to MPESA on your mobile
- Choose activate (or in Swahili Wezesha)
- Wait for an updated menu showing M-Shwari
- Accept the M-Shwari loan terms and conditions
- Wait for a confirmation SMS
How to Get M-Shwari Loan
Now that you have an active M-Shwari account, you can apply for the MPESA loan as follows:
- Go to MPESA on your phone
- Tap on ‘Loans & Savings’ and then M-Shwari Loan
- Choose ‘Request Loan’
- Enter the amount to request and the MPESA pin
- Confirm your request by pressing OK
- Wait for an SMS confirming your loan request
How to Check M-Shwari Loan Limit
You may want to check your M-Shwari loan limit before you can apply. Here’s how to do it:
Option 1 – Just dial *234*6# and wait for a confirmation SMS
Option 2 – Go to the MPESA menu on your phone, select Loans & Savings, and then M-Shwari. Then choose ‘Check Loan Limit’ and wait for a confirmation SMS.
How to Pay M-Shwari Loan
Remember, M-Shwari offers you up to 30 days to repay its loan, and you can do it as follows:
- Go to MPESA and then M-Shwari on your phone
- Select ‘Loans’ and then tap on ‘Pay Loan.’
- Enter the amount to pay and your MPESA pin
- Confirm the payment by pressing ‘OK.’
How to Unlock M-Shwari Limit
Not everyone qualifies for an M-Shwari loan. Some don’t get any limit at all, but there are ways to unlock the limit, and they include these tips:
- Start saving on M-Shwari as soon as you activate it
- Use Safaricom services more regularly
- Transact with MPESA often
- Stay in good standing with CRB
- Keep your account active (keep using it to call, text, and transact)
Why Is My M-Shwari Loan Limit Zero?
As I mentioned above, your M-Shwari loan limit may be zero. That could happen due to these reasons:
- Your line has been active for less than six months (a newly registered line)
- Your line has been inactive for a while (you haven’t been using it as often as you should)
- You have an unpaid M-Shwari loan (probably on another line)
- CRB has blacklisted you for another loan
- You don’t have any MSHWARI saving history
Having a zero limit doesn’t mean that’ll be the case forever. You can still raise your limit from zero. Here’s how to increase M-Shwari loan limit from zero:
- Wait for at least six months if your line is newly registered before applying for M-Shwari
- Actively use your mobile line to call, text, subscribe, and transact on MPESA
- Pay any unpaid M-Shwari loan
- Clear your name from CRB (it also means paying off an existing loan and obtaining the clearance certificate)
M-Shwari Loan Charges and Transaction Fees
Below are the latest fees applicable to M-Shwari loans and related transactions:
|Cash deposits to bank||Free|
|Cash withdrawals from bank||Free|
|Bank balance request||Zero|
|M-Shwari Mini statement request||Ksh 1|
|M-Shwari account statement request||Ksh 25|
|Loan facilitation fee||7.5%|
|M-Shwari Loan Lock balance inquiry||Ksh 1|
|Sending to M-Shwari Lock Account||Free|
Consequences of Not Paying M-Shwari Loan
As I mentioned, M-Shwari offers you up to 30 days to repay its loan, and there are consequences if you don’t. The most notable effect of not paying your M-Shwari loan is that the lender will extend your repayment period by another 30 days, only that you’ll pay an extra 9%. In that case, the collective loan facilitation fee or M-Shwari interest rate will be 18%.
Let’s see an example;
Suppose you borrowed Ksh 1000 from M-Shwari;
M-Shwari expects you to pay an additional 9% (Ksh 90) on top of the Ksh 1000. So, the amount you should repay is Ksh 1,090. However, if you fail to beat the deadline, M-Shwari will extend it by another 30 days, after which you’ll need to pay an additional Ksh 90. So, the total to pay will be Ksh 1,180.
But what if you don’t pay at all?
Safaricom may deny you access to other Safaricom-related services, such as Okoa Jahazi. That could happen as soon as after defaulting the first time. And in dire cases, Safaricom may forward your details to CRB.
The danger of CRB blacklisting is that getting a clearance is expensive, and you can’t find a decent lender to come to your financial aid if you are blacklisted. It just soils your creditworthiness and trust.
Is M-Shwari Loan worth it?
Judging by the extreme M-Shwari loan penalties, an M-Shwari loan is not worth it. You wouldn’t want to be blacklisted by CRB for payment default.
That’s, however, not the only concern. You also have to worry about developing a borrowing habit, which is hard to cut off. Once you start borrowing from M-Shwari, you’ll likely borrow from other mobile loan apps out there, and the more you do it, the deeper you get into debt.
Instead of going for an M-Shwari loan, why don’t you go for an M-Shwari savings? Currently, M-Shwari has three products that are just amazing if you want to save.
First, you can go for the regular M-Shwari Deposit Account, where you can earn an interest of 3-5% per annum on your savings.
Second, you can lock your savings on an M-Shwari Lock Savings Account for up to 12 months and earn an interest of 3-6% per annum.
And if you like challenging yourself, you can join the M-Shwari 52-Week Challenge to save at least Ksh 68,900 in one year.
Generally, the benefits of saving with M-Shwari are as follows:
- The opportunity to earn interest on your savings as it’s the case of the M-Shwari Deposit Account and M-Shwari Lock Savings Account
- Developing a savings culture, as it’s the case of the 52-Week Challenge and other M-Shwari savings plans
- You can save as little as Ksh 500 on an M-Shwari Deposit Account or M-Shwari Lock Savings Account
From our discussion, there’s no doubt that the M-Shwari Loan is not worth it, and we advocate for M-Shwari savings instead – in particular, the M-Shwari Deposit Account, the 52-Week Challenge, or M-Shwari Lock Savings Account.
So, it’s about time you stop borrowing and start savings. And if you need some help breaking free from the debt trap or want to learn more about saving, visit our online shop to see what we have in store for you. There are amazing goodies to help you overcome debt, master the art of savings, and plan for your financial future.