Janeffer Wacheke’s fresh-vegetable stall in Nairobi uses technology that’s helping crack a problem Kenyan banks have so far failed to solve — measuring the creditworthiness of traders in the country’s $20 billion informal economy.

The 40-year-old mother of two is among hundreds of small-scale retailers who can use her mobile phone to access loans to buy tomatoes, onions or bananas directly from producers and have them delivered by Kenyan startup Twiga Foods Ltd. That saves Wacheke a trip to the market, where she would have to haggle over prices and then transport the goods herself. It’s cutting her costs and helping her build a credit track record.

“My prayers have been answered,” Wacheke said as she packed tomatoes into a crate under a corrugated-iron roof at her stall. “In business, you need to be fast. The more you pay, the more you get bigger loans, and the more you can sell. It has really helped me.”



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