By Malachi Motano
Shining Hope for Communities –SHOFCO is a Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (Sacco) in Nairobi city informal settlements of Kibera and Mathare.
Since its establishment five years ago (August 15, 2015), the Sacco has built its membership base from only 10 members to over 4, 000 today out of which over 3, 000 members live in Kibera and the remaining 1, 000 live in Mathare.
Committed to recruit more members, the Sacco at the Country’s capital city is now eyeing more members from other cities, with main focus at the informal settlements of Muoroto slum in Tudor at the coastal city of Mombasa and the giant Nyalenda slum at the lakeside city-Kisumu.
According to the Sacco Manager, Collins Odongo, Shofco is keen to uplift lives of slum dwellers who have largely been ignored by players in the industry.
“Our mission is to empower members economically through mobilisation of savings and provision of affordable credit services. We will consider opening our doors to other residents apart from slum dwellers but for now we are still looking at how best we can roll it out even though our immediate goal is to reach to slum dwellers in other parts of the country,” Odongo said.
He was speaking to the Journalists in Nairobi when celebrating to mark Shofco’s fifth anniversary, where he indicated that the Sacco intends to have its presence in all major slums in the country by the end of next years (2021).
“It is a movement for slum dwellers and targets to grow its assets by three-fold in the next five years. Those who wish to join the Sacco should visit our offices in Kibera and Mathare for registration and submission of membership application form and begins to save from as low as Sh300 a month,” Odongo said.
Currently, about 90 per cent of the Sacco’s members are women in small businesses, the likes of Mama Mboga (female vegetable vendors), and Mitumba sellers among other SMEs. The Sacco has created a mobile platform that allows members to apply for loans and make payments.
“We now plan to fully go digital (embrace ICT) to conveniently make available all services on mobile platform. Every cloud has a silver lining, Covid-19 pandemic taught us to adopt technology in a way that previously we were cautious and there is no going back,” he said.
Just like other financial institutions, the Sacco was also hit hard by the pandemic and as a result, has restructured loans worth more than Sh10 million since April when the pandemic soared.
“This is in line with the Central Bank of Kenya’s call on financial institutions to provide relief to borrowers on personal loans based on individual circumstances caused by the pandemic,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries of the Sacco is Sheripher Mutua, who runs an egg business and daycare facility for children in Lindi area –Kibera. “I have just applied for my third loan. The egg business is doing really well but the daycare has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she pointed out.
Another beneficiaries is Tabitha Oria, who leads a group of 35 young women who have benefited from the Sacco said. “We first borrowed Sh25, 000 and we now intend to apply for Sh100, 000 to expand our business,” she says.
Her group runs a water vending kiosk in Laini Saba area in Kibera.