KNA A banking system operates as the heart and lifeblood of any thriving economy. It is the key to economic evolution and development. Banking is vital to unlocking wealth, providing jobs, creating opportunities, and facilitating commerce.
The presence of mainstream banking in an area spurs the financial literacy of the residents which culminate in a strong and stable economy. Sadly, Kendu Bay town which has been one of Homa Bay County’s commercial hubs for long grapples with ineffective banking.
The town is strategically located in between major towns including Oyugis, Homa Bay Town, and Katito and according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the town’s population has been on the rise over the last ten years by approximately 14.8 percent. Currently Kendu Bay town population stands at 6,064 people.
The ancient town is situated along the shoreline of Lake Victoria hence making it an ideal centre for banking transactions due to a thriving fishing industry and other economic activities and being a Sub County headquarters, it hosts civil servants, security officers, teachers and workers of non-governmental institutions as well as business people.
According to 2019 census report, about 178, 688 persons in Rachuonyo North Sub County are working. This means 43.9 percent of the area’s population was employed in either government or private sector.
The working class normally relies on banks to process salaries, send money and to save. Due to such factors, Kendu Bay is in dire need of a mainstream bank.
A majority of the population are active individuals who wake up in the morning to look for ways of eking a living and contribute to economic growth. This is evidenced by the many palatial accommodation facilities; an indication that the town is doing pretty well economically.
During colonial period business activities were lively as Christian Missionaries, Arabs, and Indians lived in the rural town. Kendu Bay’s old town is particularly memorable for Arab traders who owned hundreds of shops better known as ‘Dukas’ which escalated business in the town.
The shoreline of the town boasts of a pier which was constructed decades ago to enable vessels to dock thus connecting to the port of Kisumu and other lake side towns. Traders and residents of the town are currently lobbying for financial institutions and the government to aid in establishing banks to spur the local economy.
On the other hand parents paying school fees for their children are compelled to flock in banks in the surrounding towns during the opening of schools and yearn for the day when banking services would be brought closer to them.
Institutions in the town and its environs that include Kendu Sub County Hospital, Gendia Adventist Mission Hospital, polytechnics, and vocational training centers like Mawego besides numerous primary and secondary schools are all inconvenienced by lack of a bank in the town.
The town is also endowed with major tourism destinations points including the lake Simbi Nyaima and Ondago Swamp which if managed properly would spur the local economy.
Kendu Bay is also famous as the epitome of Nyanza entertainment, with its renowned ‘Kendu Show’ which attract musicians and bands from all over the country. Besides Serene Kotieno beach in the town attracts numerous tourists including domestic ones. The beach acts a resort bay for those who use Lake Victoria for transport and traders who visit the region.
Fishing in the lake generates a lot of income for the town hence making it vibrant and appropriate for banking. Agriculture is practiced extensively in the area which contributes immensely to the economy of the town.
Kendu bay town also prides itself as the home to former US president Brack Obama’s father.
Rosemary Adhiambo who runs a major retail shop in Kendu Bay narrates that at times they panic over security as they have to accumulate bulk cash and risk transporting it to banks in Homa Bay town, 30 kilometers away. She says on many occasions, they opt to keep money in their homes which they said was tantamount to risking their lives and businesses. “Traders are hopeful that mainstream banking will help ease business transactions especially in this era of technology,” she said.
Small and medium enterprises operators complain that lack of banking services has incapacitated the sustainability of their cooperative societies. “Business operators in Kendu bay Town finds it difficult to scale up because they are unable to access loans from the bank to help them boost their enterprises,” Jactone, a local trader says.
He said though some banks are providing alternative methods such as mobile phone banking and internet banking in an attempt to address the challenge of the elderly and those un-learned as they were not digital savvy.
A Statistics Officer, Jared Otieno on his part notes that Kendu Bay was one of the fastest growing towns in the county and had all the necessities required to sustain a bank. “What is remaining is for the government and financial institutions to work on how to set up a bank in the historical town,” Otieno said.