2023 has presented an opportunity for cooperatives to renew themselves for business. At the beginning of this year, they looked back and evaluated on whether or not they achieved all the set goals in the previous year. They try to come up with well researched solutions to avoid having a repetition of unproductive strategies.
Most Saccos direct their efforts to ensuring their members receive the highest rates in dividends and rebates during the coming AGMs and ADMs.
Declaration of high dividend rates is not a measure of the best performed Sacco in the real sense but believe me, such moves act as a marketing tool to maintaining the current members as well as attracting new prospects. Like any other business, the shareholders will be keen to follow and know how their Sacco has performed.
As Saccos run up and down to offer attractive rates, they should remember that they are in a continuous business that calls for continuous improvements efforts for the growth and development of its members and the institution itself.
They need to wake up for another year in business and design Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound (SMART) goals. They should keep in mind that quality products and services that are reviewed from time to time are key to a Sacco’s good performance.
Enormous growth has been experienced in our Cooperative sector and Saccos today are facing a lot of competition amongst themselves and from other financial institutions. The selling language of low-interest loans no longer works.
Saccos are therefore required to understand the present market needs which change daily due to members’ increased globalization and high exposure, and act accordingly.
They need to invest heavily on product and service development to ensure they meet their customer’s exact needs. They also need to have targeted products that cater for the target market in the most unique way possible.
For guaranteed member satisfaction, they need to ask themselves how unique and valuable their products and services are compared to other institutions. They must get a unique way to present their products and services to make them the most preferred institution.
They should strive to keep at bar with shifting members’ needs and adopt systems with regard to their business intelligence and analytics capabilities to understand their members and products better.
To adapt to the changing trends of their customers’ needs, Saccos’ relevant departments need tools that will make their work easier and more efficient. It is important to note that all departments are equally important in achieving Saccos’ annual goals and should be given all the attention they require.
Most Saccos do not invest in good technology and experts in ICT. Some have ignored automating their procedures which is very key in the current world.
We are in a digital world hence Saccos cannot afford to ignore digital marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. Most of their members and prospective members spend hours on social media and search engines looking for helpful content and investment opportunities hence Saccos should take advantage of such opportunities to engage, educate and recruit them as members.
It is the responsibility of every Sacco to make the onboarding process seamless so that members only visit the Sacco offices when it’s very necessary and unavoidable.
With such kind of preparedness, Saccos will get to understand the products that do well and what their members really need, which will eventually lead to increased business.
This is the chance for Saccos to identify their weaknesses, work on them and improve. They should also capitalize on their strengths. This is another opportunity for Saccos to serve members. Wishing you a prosperous 2023.
By CCOP Dorcas Nyambura Ndegwa
The writer works with one of the thriving Saccos in the country. She is also a post-graduate student at the Co-operative University of Kenya.