Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) CEO Peter Njuguna has stressed on the need for Saccos to collaborate to achieve greatness.
“We have realized that Saccos actually collaborate significantly with various service providers because Saccos alone cannot provide the services. Courtesy of the collaborations we have had so far, you will note that we have grown and are doing well both in the growth of deposits and assets,” he said.
He added that the cooperative movement presently boasts of over 14 million members and that despite the number, there is still a huge potential for the movement to reach unimaginable numbers if Saccos come together, cooperate and collaborate to come up with efficient means of ensuring that products and services developed are responsive and attractive depending on the social economic environment they operate in.
Njuguna said that other than Saccos getting together to efficiently serve members, both the government and the entire industry needed to join forces in order to take the business to higher heights.
He added that as the cooperative movement makes strides to come together with other service providers to empower members through trainings, education and provision of quality, relevant and responsive products and services, it was also crucial to question if the collaboration was bringing the optimum and the desired results.
“Are our past partnerships, performances and collaborations able to sustain growth? What new aspect can we incorporate so as to serve members conveniently, efficiently, timely and in a secure environment? What can we change that will sustain growth and development of the sector in order to improve members’ lives?” the SASRA CEO posed.
He pointed out that even as Saccos expand through the establishment of new branches, deployment of agency banking and exploitation of mobile and internet platforms to reach new members, they need to measure their growth relative to the GDP so as to establish whether or not they are developing.
Njuguna added that it was imperative for cooperative societies to understand members’ needs as they endeavor to serve them.
“Saccos should seek alliances that enhance their stability, efficiency and deep inclusion that meet their visions and long-term goals as institutions,” he said.
He reiterated that SASRA would stay true to its role of regulating and developing the industry by promoting sound business practices that are geared towards ensuring stability, growth of the entire industry, access of financial services and the protection members’ funds.
Commissioner for Cooperative Development David Obonyo advised Sacco leaders to explore other sustainable ways of acquiring income so as to overcome some of the prominent challenges facing Saccos presently.
He pointed out that the government is committed to creating a convenient working environment for Saccos to carry out their businesses effectively.
“The government is currently working on coming up with a nation-wide cooperative that will offer a platform for cooperatives to ride on and eventually protect them from cyber-attacks as well as assist them in offering quality services to their members,” he revealed.
He urged Saccos to employ creativity and innovation when coming up with products and services which are attractive and responsive depending on the different environment different Saccos operate in.
“You need to employ research, creativity and innovation when coming up with products and services. Stop copying products and services from other Saccos since Saccos operate with customers with different needs in different environments. Members want products and services that respond to their needs,” he said.
Obonyo noted that most Saccos had opened their common bond and rebranded to attract more people but warned that the move might become a distraction as it might lead to Saccos ending up with clients instead of members.
“The cooperative movement has basic beliefs and principals that drive members. Our business is to help members understand what a cooperative is and not misinterpret that a cooperative is a commercial bank where one banks money and withdraws it or takes a loan when in need,” he pointed out.
The commissioner underscored the importance of being realistic when declaring dividends and not being carried away by the dividends drift.
“The most important thing is the nature of services rendered to members and not the dividends shared to members since dividends are only issued once a year,” he said, further revealing that the state department was working closely with deposit taking Saccos to promote the Central Liquidity facility and the shared platform.
Equity Bank CEO Dr. James Mwangi encouraged Sacco players to collaborate and be consistent in their operations.
He pointed out that customers are always looking for products and service providers whom they can constantly trust and rely on.
“When you’re consistent in your behavior, members also become consistent in their behavior. When you stop doing things that generate growth, the growth also disappears,” he advised, further inviting Saccos to work together with Equity Bank.
Safaricom Sacco CEO Joseph Njoroge said that it’s very crucial for Saccos build their products and services with their customers or members in mind.
“When we were coming up with a system, our first thought was that the system must be able to respond to our customer needs. What are the pinpoints that our customers go through? What are our customers’ needs? We needed to have a reliable system that is able to support our operations and provide security for the members’ funds as well as help us in our vision.” Njoroge pointed out.
By George Otieno
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