By Wesley Ken
C.S Peter Nyamai, the Mombasa Port Sacco Chairman, is a seasoned Cooperative management guru. Prior to joining Mombasa Port Sacco (MPS) in 2013, Nyamai had held, among others; the position of Vice–Chair at Bandari Sacco. Bandari has been for the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) employees whereas MPS was for Kenya Cargo Handling (KCH) workers. This was, however, before Mombasa Port Sacco opened its common Bond. When KPA and KCH merged, the Saccos remained distinct – still maintaining their individual identities.
Nyamai says that when he joined MPS as chair, there was a lot of work to do. “We inherited a Sacco that was being run like a Chama; record keeping rudimental, no proper structures, a depleted work-force, heavy indebtedness, commercial banks and members queuing for loans, at times even for a month. In fact at that time, members were fighting and scrambling for loan forms, because it was a case of ‘first-come-first-served,’ a problem, he now says he is glad it is long gone. This has been achieved through the Transformation Agenda and as a result MPS has moved from an ordinary savings and credit services into a more business-like outfit.
“The purpose of Saccos is not profit maximization per se, but creating wealth for its members thus helping in alleviating poverty among our members,” he says.
Looking back a few years ago, Nyamai remembers a time MPS had loans accruing up to Sh.200 million and how through shear hard work the figures have been brought down to the current under Sh14 million. There is even better news for MPS members: “By next year January when our financial year starts, we will be completely debt free,” he confided.
Prudent management has borne fruits – the issue of low cash reserves is long gone. Nyamai confirmed that no MPS member will queue for any loan. “As long as you have signatories and meet the requirements, you will get your loan the same day,” he says.
The Sacco has also set aside funds for the digitalization all the records. “We have a modern digital registry. I believe, to be a head you need excellent corporate governance and use of technology.”
M-port Sacco – a new software has been installed, he noted adding, “The software enables members to check their balance, pay bills, buy airtime; in fact one can undertake almost all transactions using their mobile phone, at their comfort.”
Best in education and training, the sacco has won awards for Highest rate in interest on member deposits (15%) and best managed Parastatal society in the country.
MPS also recently added to its hat two more prestigious Awards – Most improved organization 2nd Runners up and 1st Runner up Chairman of the year 2016, afeat Nyamai attributes to the Sacco’s a new strategic plan, a revamped business plan, employment of modern technology, a cut down on wasteful expenditures, entrenched corporate governance and annual audits by the Institute of Certified Public Secretaries of Kenya (ICPSK). The Sacco has also worked on its institutional weaknesses and embraced a new organizational structure adding value ventures taken by its members.
Mombasa Port Sacco has also been nominated for by Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) for the award of best Sacco Award (subject to voting- link)
The challenges MPS has had to grapple with include competition from commercial banks and a few cases of ‘chronic borrowers’ who Nyamai says borrow but fail to utilize their loans properly. This gives them a challenge because they will have accumulated loans. To sort out this problem MPS has set funds to educate them on better financial management.
Since 2014, MPS has gradually reduced interest rates charged on loans. At the moment the most expensive loan is at 14.5% (at a reducing balance). Nyamai assures that the rates will be even lower in the days ahead. This he says will be key to further expansion and consequent growth of the Sacco.
MPS has recently injected more vigor into its workforce by outsourcing and recruiting for positions of finance manager, Marketing and Information Technology expert.
“For me Sacco management is a passion. And there is evidence to back this up. Wherever I have been this has been apparent. Am glad I have left a legacy wherever I have worked in. Honesty and the fear of God is what drives me,” he concludes.