I have keenly been following events in the Co-operative Movement for the last one decade and there is one question that has been bothering me; has rebranding of Saccos really been a gain or a double-edged sword for the industry?
Most problems affecting many Saccos currently have pointed to the change of names and the expansion of membership beyond their core-customers. Rebranding also called for the opening of new branches across the country and this has been another source of trouble for the societies working hard to comply with a bad Government policy in my view.
A case in point is the Metropolitan Sacco based in Kiambu which over the years has fashioned itself as the most thriving establishment in the country. Upon its change of name from Kiambu Teachers Sacco, Metropolitan went into a frenzy opening new branches across the country and opening doors to everyone to become a member. But its woes became apparent in the last few years owing to unchecked expansion. There are many others facing such challenges.
It would appear to me that rebranding was rushed. Introducing non-core members opened a pandora’s box. It was going to be difficult for Saccos with FOSA branches to know their customers well as they used to through open-door-membership policy. The movement suddenly got ensconced with defaulter issues arising mainly from non-founder members.
To ensure sanity and stability especially in Deposit-Taking Saccos, it has become increasingly difficult to handle rising cases of defaulters particularly drawn from the so-called Category ‘B’ and ‘C’. The Government should rethink this policy as soon as possible and encourage Saccos to recruit members more within its core-market.
Bedan Njuguna, Nairobi