Grounded on seven principles and guided by seven board members, giant housing co-operatives aims at growing from strength to strength as it celebrates its seventh birthday
By George Gichuki
2017 will go down in the history of Kenya as a very volatile year for business across the board. The better half of the year was spent in a prolonged and heated political campaign that resulted in the presidential election being repeated. Needless to say, this took a heavy toll on business as investors and customers tightened their pulses. “ After going through that difficult period, we are optimistic that 2018 will be a year of recovery for the local businesses in various sectors of the economy, as they pick fully in 2019,” said Mr. Samuel Maina, the chairman of Urithi Housing during the organization’s sixth annual general meeting ( AGM) that was held at the Hill Top resort – Nakuru. The iconic resort is owned by the giant housing co-operative.
Having been registered as a housing co-operative by the government in September 2012, Urithi is celebrating its seventh birthday this year. “Seven in the bible is the number of completeness and perfection,” said Mr. Maina during the AGM. “As an organization, we are guided by seven principles including openness and effective members’ participation, we have seven board members, we are launching the seventh ‘nyumba mia’ product this year and we shall also be developing cottages at the Hill Top resort,” he added.
Against this background, Urithi is set for a rebirth after a successful journey of seven years. “We have picked important lessons within our short history as an organization which will inform the course we are going to chart in the years ahead,” the chairman emphasized. The organization is therefore set for a thorough restructuring exercise that will make it lean and efficient. “In our new strategic direction, we are going to focus more on building strong relationships with our members as opposed to merely transacting business with them,” he further said. Currently, Urithi has a membership of 27,000 and a branch network of 16. The new strategic direction will be based on three pillars: engaging members, delivering and securing quality houses and land as well as well as advocacy (this will enhance the organization’s visibility).
Of critical importance, Urithi will put in place a very strong foundation that will enable it to manage its expansion and differentiate it from other co-operatives in the country offering similar products. Bearing in mind the need to give its members exemplary services, another key pillar of Urithi’s new strategic direction will be strengthening its governance structure so that it is in tandem with the members’ needs and aspirations.
Affordable housing is one of the four pillars of the ‘Big Four’ agenda which the government will focus on during the next five years, in order to accelerate socio-economic development. The other pillars are: manufacturing, universal healthcare and food security. With an asset base of Kshs. 3 billion, Urithi is therefore well positioned to play a critical role in the actualization of the ‘ Big Four’ agenda’s aspirations, by offering affordable housing to Kenyans. A good case in point that it has a good track record in that field is its huge success in rolling out the ‘Nyumba Mia’ product which entails developing modern housing units in secure and serene locations. Styled in the popular gated community housing concept, the product has enabled many Kenyans to own decent houses, without going through the laborious and expensive exercise of managing the construction of such houses on their own.
Some of the milestones as Urithi celebrates seven years of completeness include: growing from an idea to a giant organization with a membership of 27,000, starting with a single land project to selling over 3,000 acres of land and 1,670 housing units, besides issuing over 6,500 title deeds. Urithi has also registered a revenue of over Kshs. 4 billion, while it now has over 300 members of staff and sales executive, compared to the skeleton staff of 5 who established it seven years ago. With such muscles, its next phase of growth promises to be more exciting and far much better.