By Kamundia Muriithi
Universal Traders Sacco (UTS) held its annual members education day in Embu County recently where facilitators shared crucial information for the vibrant growth of the cooperative sub-sector.
More than 600 members including businesspeople, farmers, boda boda riders, jua kali artisans and salaried people, among others, attended the eye-opening session.
Among those present was the Sacco chairman Fredrick Ngumbi, CEO Dominic Mutunga, other directors, UTS Embu branch manager Juliet Muia, representatives of KUSSCO and officials from the Department of Cooperatives.
The Sacco leadership said they offer well-structured and affordable products and services geared at meeting the needs of their clientele who range from farmers, micro-entrepreneurs, civil servants, self-help groups and associations.
They said due to the evolving nature of the industry, the UTS research and marketing team continually apply technology and innovation to develop products that address the needs of members without compromising its financial sustainability.
A trainer from the Cooperative Bank of Kenya Mr Nzola sensitized members on the importance of patronizing their Sacco’s products and remaining loyal to their institutions.
The rallying call from the facilitators was to bring in more members to the Sacco.
“You can aim to bring just a single member to the Sacco in a year. Growth in membership will see your deposits soar up enabling the Sacco to carry out its businesses conveniently thus improving the services it offers to you,” said Nzola.
He added that the role of directors and Sacco staff is marketing whereas the members are key in convincing their friends, colleagues and family members to join.
The trainer advised Sacco members to desist from saving a portion of their money in banks where they feel it is more secure rather than increasing their Sacco savings.
He pointed out that when banks make profits using the deposits from the savers, the account holder does not get a share of the profits unlike in a Sacco where they receive dividends.
“Banks exist to make profits. They recently announced the billions they made in the last one year, but for Saccos, they seek to offer services and products to the members.
He added that it is wrong for Saccos to compete on dividends issuance since some can announce a high rate then charge highly for their products.
The facilitators also advised Sacco members to borrow only what they can repay based on their needs, expected income and cash flow; not on what they qualify for.
Two UTS members gave their testimonies on what they have managed to achieve through patronizing the various products and services the Sacco offers.
Jacob Nyagah, a dairy farmer, said the success of his journey in farming took shape after he joined UTS.
He recalled that when he joined UTS as a young man, he was saving only Sh.100 which he increased to Sh.200 and after several months obtained a loan of Sh.40,000 that he used to buy a dairy cow.
He would later take another loan of Sh.80,000 to buy a pedigree cow thus venturing into serious dairy farming.
On his part, Joseph Nyagah Ireri, an investor in the matatu industry said he used savings and loans from UTS to expand his enterprise.
The former secondary school teacher said he was cautious at first when he joined UTS but after gaining confidence went full throttle into it and is reaping the benefits.
Embu Health acting CEC Mary Munene said the Sacco has been of benefit to her and many farmers and traders in her line of work.
Ms Ened Kariuki from the Embu Cooperative office encouraged the members to adopt at least one of the teachings they learned during the educational day.
She added that the department of cooperatives was keen on supporting all Saccos in their activities for the growth of the economy.
Universal Traders Sacco (UTS), previously known as Masaku Traders Sacco Society Limited, was registered in 1991 as a co-operative society in response to the economic needs of the local populace mainly in lower Eastern Kenya.
It was licensed by SASRA in the year 2011 as a deposit taking Sacco.