Coop leaders’ take on how to increase Sacco membership

At this time of the year, most Saccos are either holding Annual General Meetings (AGM) or Annual Delegates Meetings (ADM) to elaborate their growth prospects and reflect on their performance last year.

During these meetings, increased membership will emerge as the main focus since it translates to more savings and loan uptake, hence improved capitalization.

Many Saccos have opened their common bond to allow membership from diverse sectors of the economy.

With the help of mobile banking, one can join any Sacco, the geographical barriers notwithstanding.

The most challenging task for Saccos is who to recruit as members and how to retain them.

Kimisitu Sacco CEO Lwanga Mbeche noted that housing cooperatives excite the general public to join Saccos in large numbers.

He noted that many Saccos have formed housing cooperatives to motivate their members to own houses and other properties such as land.

“Housing is a viable project and with devolution, rural market centres are in need of decent housing for county staff,” he said, adding that Saccos can venture into such a business and in the process, increase their visibility and presence to attract more members.

He noted that such moves will also reduce incidences where Kenyans are conned by individuals and entities who purport to buy and develop land on their behalf.

“Saccos are licensed and organised entities that can assist Kenyans own properties and put up houses,” he said, noting that with improved sensitization, this can inspire members to start saving towards owning homes.

Consequently, this will significantly improve Saccos’ liquidity and profit margins.

Prime Time Sacco Board Chairman Thomas Rotich agrees with Lwanga’s sentiments that encouraging members to join Saccos with the overall aim of putting up  decent housing can increase interest in Saccos.

Siraji Sacco CEO Felix Ochieng’ said agriculture-based Saccos are adversely affected by associated risks such as poor rains.

“Saccos have not exhausted their potential in agriculture and the business community. However, the associated risks have hindered us from harnessing our full potential,” he said.

He noted that enhancing areas that go hand in hand with Sacco business will greatly increase membership.

He added that if dams and water reservoirs were built, crop yield will be promising and farmers, as members of Saccos, will be assured of a sustainable and stable income.

Besides, Saccos can take the lead by assisting farmers diversify into value addition to increase their incomes.

Magadi Soda Sacco Board Chairman Gordon Opiyo says that the main challenge of recruiting membership outside the check-off system is the high credit risk Saccos get exposed to.

He noted that drought is one of the causes of unreliable member contribution, and gave an example of how in Kajiado, many residents depend on cattle for livelihood yet drought has killed most of the said cattle.

He believes that one way of encouraging increased membership is by Saccos coming up with unique products to address the diverse needs of each population.

 “Product analysis and diversification that understands the unique needs of each demographic of the population of the society is critical. It must be in the context of business and if a customer is served well, they will bring members to the Sacco,” he said.

Jogoo Sacco CEO Stephen Ng’ang’a feels that the entertainment industry  hasn’t been looked into.

He said that once the Sacco Central is in place, the young generation can then opt to be paid through Saccos.

“Currently, these entertainers are paid through banks and for them to save in Saccos, we have to be in the national payment system,” he said.

He says that the current arrangement would pose a challenge for them to start saving in Saccos given their high appetite for consumption.

He said that while their consumption overrides savings, financial education in colleges can encourage them to save.

For some Saccos, training their members on how to diversify their income streams looks the probable solution.

By Sacco Reporter

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