Essentially, savings and credit co-operative societies (Saccos) are established by their members as vehicles of uplifting their socio-economic status. Even as they strive to operate as going concerns, Saccos are not driven by the profit motive. To drive this point home, the profit earned by a Sacco is shared among its members annually in form of dividends. In addition, Saccos price their products competitively so that their members can access them easily.
The Sacco Supervision Report 2020 (prepared by the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority) indicates that the total assets among the 175 deposit taking Saccos in the country grew to Kshs.627.68 billion in 2020 from Kshs.556.71 in 2019. During the same period, their total deposits and gross loans increased by 13.41% and 13.16% respectively. This demonstrates that deposit taking Saccos were able to withstand the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Significantly, the report further indicates that 34 tier one deposit taking Saccos ( with total assets above Kshs. 5 billion) controlled 72.03% of the total assets’ portfolio.
Adding value to life
Established in 1977 by a group of about three hundred teachers from the then Murang’a district, Mentor Sacco has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Offering front office service activity (FOSA) and with an asset base of over Kshs. 5 billion, the tier one Sacco opened its common bond to non-teaching professionals, civil servants, county governments as well as the business community in 2000. “In line with our mantra – adding value to life –our major aim is to improve the socio-economic status of our members by offering them innovative products and services that meet their needs,” says Mrs. Joyce Ndegwa, Chief Executive Officer, Mentor Sacco.
The core business of Mentor Sacco is offering credit (loans) to its members. To that end, Mrs. Ndegwa observes that since the interest charged on these loans is calculated on a reduced principal at varying intervals (reducing balance), if members honour their payments before the agreed time frame, then their debt burden will be less. “If the term of your loan is three years for instance, but you are able to honour the same within a year, then you shall save some money on the reduced interest,” she affirms. She further says that settling loans before their terms gives room to a member to apply for a fresh facility hence accomplishing more goals.
Ever since opening its common bond, Mentor Sacco has continued to attract very many business customers. In that vein, it has developed products for them – for instance the ‘biashara’ plus loan. Mrs. Ndegwa advises these customers to grow their deposits faithfully. This is because loans are offered as a multiplier of one’s deposits. Additionally, she says that building deposits is a good way of planning for one’s retirement – a period when he or she is less productive and exposed to health challenges. Every year, members also earn dividends from their deposits which they can use to meet their personal needs or to grow their investments. Moreover, if in an unfortunate situation a member passes on, then his or her next of kin is entitled to double the deposits’ value. In the same breath, since Mentor Sacco insures its loans, the next of kin is not exposed to any liability in case the member who passes on had a loan. Mentor Sacco has also opened a window for its members (the business people included) to guarantee their own loans up to ninety per cent of their deposits. This is an incentive to the members to grow their deposits and achieve financial success.
“Our business customers should use their loans as capital for growing and expanding their enterprises, as opposed to diverting them to personal use,” she observes. “Consequently, servicing them will not be a challenge,” she adds. Further, she advises these customers to channel their business proceeds through the Sacco since this will build their track record, making it easier for them to access funding. She also cautions them against the tendency of borrowing from many lenders since this overburdens their enterprises with unnecessary debts. Some of these lenders according to her are unregulated and they charge exorbitant interest rates hence making their loans very expensive. “We have many unfortunate cases of people losing their hard earned assets after getting loans from unscrupulous and informal lenders – otherwise known as shylocks,” Mrs. Ndegwa laments. She therefore advises Mentor Sacco members not to fall victim of such lenders by taking advantage of the institution’s friendly products and services.