By Joseph Mukubwa
New Fortis Sacco, formerly known as Nyeri Teachers Savings and Credit Co-operative Society, emerged the Best Managed Co-operative Nationally at the Ushirika Day gala night, a ceremony that was recently held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.
It also won the award for Best Managed Teachers Sacco and trophy for Best Banking Services in the Teachers Sacco category.
New Fortis Sacco, whose membership stood at 9,639 as at March 2015, also took second position as the Sacco with the Highest Average Savings per member and also took the second position as Sacco with the Best Insurance Agency services. It also scooped third position as Teachers Sacco with the Highest Dividend Payout.
While occupying top position overall at the National Ushirika Day fete, New Forties also displayed its prowess at the Nyeri County Ushirika Day celebrations.
In the Urban Category, New Fortis Sacco received an award for Sacco offering the Highest Interest on Unwithdrawable Deposits, at 12.2 per cent.
This award for New Forties Sacco, both at the National and County levels comes at a time when the Society has been on an intense membership recruitment drive.
In May this year, the Society opened a new branch at Othaya in an effort to bring services closer to their members.
After rebranding and opening a common bond, New Fortis-a name derived from the term fortress, which means strength, reliability, stability and a dependable impression, has spread its wings beyond salaried persons to women, youth, business community, farmers, religious community as well as employees of various institutions such as schools and churches among others.
John Githinji, New Fortis Chairman, said the Society opted to rebrand so that it could reach out to more members, come up with new products and services as well as take advantage of new opportunities.
As it brings in non-salaried staff, the society has innovated new products and services to satisfy the needs of the fresh market. Some of the products introduced include business loans, group loans, micro-credit loans, farm inputs loans among others.
To ensure that the non-salaried staff needs are properly addressed, the Sacco has recruited more professional and experienced employees who are versed in micro-credit group mobilization, agriculture among other fields. These professionals have also been tasked with the responsibility of training old staff in these specialized areas in order to serve these clients better.
As it steps up its marketing campaigns to reach out to members in Nyeri County and other parts of the country, New Fortis has established a vibrant sales and marketing department consisting of 25 staff responsible for recruiting more members and sensitize them on the Sacco products and services.
In order to check on loan defaulters, Newfortis is on the verge of joining the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).
Githinji is urging members to repay their loans faithfully to avoid being listed at the Credit Reference Bureaus. He warns that those who will default on their loan repayments will have their names blacklisted upon the 90 days grace period. Their identification and details will be shared with other financial institutions.
“The rebranding exercise has helped the Sacco survive emerging market challenges as well as assist in its diversification. Changing the name was part of the process and was done as recommended during last year’s Annual General Meeting,” Githinji said.
New Fortis has over 10,000 members, a share capital of over Sh 65.9 million and a loan portfolio of more than Sh3.1 billion.
By Joseph Mukubwa