By Kamundia Muriithi
A welfare group formed by a few matatu operators in Embu County in the late 90s has grown into one of the largest public transport Saccos in the country.
Nairobi, Embu, Nissan Operators (Neno) Sacco is today a formidable and reputable transport based cooperative with a fleet of well managed vehicles in addition to various well performing investments.
As a savings and credit cooperative, the Sacco is a force to reckon. As of 31st December 2019, its asset base stood at Sh. 333 million and the loan book at Sh. 276 million.
The Sacco Chairman Peter Manga gives a peek into the humble beginnings of the Sacco back in 1998 when the founders who shared a common vision joined hands to pull their resources together to grow wealth and manage their matatus jointly.
The welfare team later formed a Sacco, which has grown by leaps and bounds to the giant cooperative today.
Manga says the Sacco is now open to the general public, and not just matatu operators, for the purpose of saving and obtaining credit, a move that has helped blow more wind into its sails promoting its growth.
Neno Sacco currently has 720 active members who are serious savers while patronizing the various products especially loans that are tailored to meet needs of members.
The Sacco has four main types of loan products namely; development, emergency, school fees and quick fix loans.
“We give two and half times of deposits up to a maximum of Sh.7 million. We also have special loan for super savers who have exceeded the Sh.7 million ceiling and still have good deposits,” says Manga.
The Sacco has been performing so well that it has sufficient funds to issue loans to members from its internal sources as opposed to external borrowing from banks as many Saccos do.
Manga added that they have extra money currently Sh.30 million invested in CIC Money Market Fund, which he says can be ascertained in their books of account.
Among its assets is a petrol station in Embu town leased to Vivo Energy- the Shell Kirimari Petrol Station.
Manga reveals that they also own Neno Plaza in Nairobi currently leased to a commercial bank and a hotel and a building in Mombasa through its sister company -Neno Courier Services Ltd.
“The Sacco has its own fleet of three matatus through its investment arm, the Eastern Collection Multipurpose Cooperative Society,” says the chairman.
Through the sister company Neno Courier Services Ltd that is fully owned by members, they also runs the Imani Coaches Ltd, which has a fleet of 11 buses operating within Meru, Nairobi, Mombasa and Mtwapa routes.
For an institution of such magnitude to operate successfully, a sound and dedicated management is a requisite.
The management of Neno Sacco comprises nine passionate board members with Manga as the chairman since the institution was formed. The Sacco also has three supervisory committee members.
Manga says the Sacco has been helping its members acquire new matatus hence a casual glance at Embu shows most of the new matatus belong to Neno.
In its public transportation arm, the Sacco members have a fleet of 800 matatus that operates in various routes such Meru, Nairobi, Kitui, Kathwana, among others.
“Our aim is to become the leading Sacco in the country. We are doing this by diversifying our routes. We have already applied for a route to Western Kenya,” added Mr. Manga.
“Through the Neno Self Help Group, we have a disciplinary committee that looks at drivers, crew and maintenance of vehicles,” reveals Manga.
During International Cooperatives Alliance Day last year, Neno Sacco was feted as the Best Managed Transport Sacco in Embu County. It also bagged an award in the same category during the Agriculture Society of Kenya Embu County show.
Apart from astutely chairing Neno, Manga runs an insurance agency in Embu town and also represents KUSSCO as the Director Eastern region.
He also serves as the board of management chairman Kiamugumo Girls Secondary School and a board member at Kiamutugu Boys High School.