My parents, like most working-class couples in the 90s turned their house into a home on credit. They got one furniture item from Pelhams and another from Nyore Nyore. All on lay-by. It took a few years but they paid it all up and it was on to upgrades.
Had they been forced to buy those items outright, they would have had to fill up their house one item at a time. They would have had to watch TV while sat on the floor whilst they saved up for masofa.
In the West and even across the Limpopo, they still pretty much live life the credit way. While you had to save up US$5000 to buy that Honda Fit of yours, your friend down south got a brand new Suzuki Swift for US$175 per month for 6 years.
That car costs close to US$10,000 cash and your friend down south would not have been able to afford it had it not been for the credit option.
Depending on what kind of collateral you have and what your payslip looks like, you can get cars for credit in Zimbabwe too. Cars are a big purchase though. What about mobile phones? What if you could get a brand-new smartphone on credit?
We have watched on longingly for years as our colleagues in other countries get to use the latest flagships from Apple and Samsung while we have to contend with 5-year-old phones. They can afford to keep up with the latest phones because they get those phones on credit.
We don’t have many options to get phones on credit in Zimbabwe and so when I came across one, I had to share.
Mobile device loans
Bridgevest Capital is offering mobile device loans and here is how the deal looks:
- 6 months tenure
- 12.5% interest
- 3% establishment fee
- Currency – USD
- The minimum amount is dependent on the device’s price
It’s not exactly like the 24 and 36-month plans some get in other countries but it’s still a credit option. The 12.5% interest is steep but is the prevailing interest rate on most USD loans in the market.
If you picked out a $500 phone you would pay an establishment fee of $15 and interest of $62.50. Making for a total payment of $577.50. The establishment fee has to be paid before they process the loan for you. So, if you commit to equal instalments for the $562.50, you will have to pay back $93.75 per month for 6 months.
That sounds more doable than forking out $500 outright. Would it have been even better if the loan was for 12 or 24 months? Of course, the monthly repayments would have been lower. However, saying that a deal could have been better does not mean it is bad per se.
What you need to get the loan
So if you decide it’s about time you gave that 8-year-old iPhone a rest, here are the hurdles you have to jump through to get that device loan.
If you’re a civil servant you already know it’s going to be easy to access these loans. You only need to provide a payslip and a copy of your ID and you will get your loan within 24 hours of applying.
If you are formally employed in the private sector and earning USD then you too can access the device loans. You will need to provide a certified copy of your ID, an employment letter on letterhead or stamped and your current payslip.
Sounds about the same as for civil servants, however, there is yet a hurdle. You will need your employer to enter into an arrangement with Bridgevest Capital whereby they collect the repayments from your salary on behalf of the lender.
We talked about this when we looked at the Microfinance industry in Zimbabwe. This is the solution that lenders came up with to limit their risk.
So, even if you wouldn’t struggle to pay back a loan, if you don’t have a payslip you won’t be getting one. If you are employed and have a payslip, you still have to convince your employer’s HR and Finance guys to accept a stop-order kind of deal with Bridgevest.
All this means the majority of Zimbabweans won’t qualify to get these device loans. That’s just the way it is in Zimbabwe right now.
If you are amongst the fortunate, do note that there are other loans available too. If you don’t need to upgrade your device you can get loans for whatever you want. It will be the same interest rate and establishment fee as above. The only difference is that the minimum loan amount will be $100.
You can apply for these loans via WhatsApp, email or a web portal. Visit the Bridgevest website if you want to get in on the action.
What do you think about all this? Will you be getting a loan so you can finally find out what the fuss with the Galaxy Fold 4 is all about? Or are you in the ‘if you don’t afford it without a loan then you don’t afford it’ camp? Let us know in the comments below.