Profitable Sacco launches a landmark building in Murang’a town as it focuses on growing its membership and reach
By George Gichuki
Murang’a County falls under the popular Mt. Kenya tourism circuit. Its most exceptional tourist attraction is the revered Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga shrine. With its beautiful landscape, the place is a magnet for individuals seeking serenity.
With its major economic activity being agriculture, the county is a major producer of tea and coffee. It is acclaimed for bringing forth some of the most celebrated business titans in the country.
Being a predominantly agricultural region, Murang’a County has a rich history of nurturing successful co-operative societies which date back to the colonial days. Weithaga and Kandara Farmers Co-operative Societies for instance were established in 1953. In its hey days, Murang’a Farmers District Co-operative Union was an economic powerhouse that transformed the lives of many coffee farmers in the region.
Since the coming into place of devolved governments, Saccos have grown exponentially in Murang’a County. The County government has also supported the establishment of Saccos for women engaged in various economic activities.
The county’s motto is “Kamuingi koyaga ndiri” translating to ‘ Unity is Strength’. Taking cue from the motto, a group of great minds (who happened to be teachers) joined hands in 1977 to start Murang’a Teachers’ Savings and Credit Co-operative. Today the organization has grown in leaps and bounds and rebranded to Mentor Sacco Society Limited.
The Sacco was formed by about three hundred teachers from the then Murang’a District. In the year 2000, through a common vote by the members, it opened its membership to civil servants. The Sacco has risen from a small savings and credit co-operative to a formidable lender with a presence beyond Murang’a County.
In 2011, the Sacco found it prudent to accommodate members from other professions as well as the business community as long as they were legal citizens of Kenya. In that vein, it launched front office services activity (FOSA) and later rebranded to Mentor Sacco. This exercise not only enabled non-teachers to come on board, but also helped the Sacco expand its territory beyond the borders of Murang’a County.
Mentor Sacco offers ‘front office services activity’ (fosa) and hence the members are not only able to open and operate accounts, but they also access various loan products. In addition, through a mobile banking platform that is branded ‘Mentor Quick Cash’, the Sacco offers value addition products that are accessible to its customers whenever and wherever they are located. Through the Mentor Quick Cash platform, members can deposit, withdraw cash, pay various utility bills and transfer funds using their mobile phones
The Sacco has an interactive website through which members can access vital information, share feedback about the products and services being offered as well as download loan application forms which they can in turn fill and return without visiting branches.
Having opened its doors to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) market segment, Mentor has developed a special loan product for them. The main objective of the Sacco is mobilizing savings that it in turn lends to its members. In that regard the SMEs have to save with the Sacco first and then afterwards based on their level of savings, they can access credit.
The supreme authority of the Sacco is vested in the members and is exercised when they hold the Annual General Meeting. The board is elected by the members to represent them in the Sacco and ensure that their needs are well taken care of. The board also ensures that all the resolutions made during the AGM are implemented.
The backbone of every successful organization is a great leader whose major roles include: driving strategy, carrying the vision and assembling teams. Traditionally, the leadership of many big businesses was dominated by men. Nevertheless, today, there are many ladies who have broken the proverbial glass ceiling. Mrs. Joyce Ndegwa, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Mentor Sacco is one of them. She took over the position from Mr. Alex Irungu who retired in 2017 after serving the Sacco since its inception.
The vision of Mrs. Ndegwa is to take the fast growing financial institution to the next level. To that end, she is focusing on finding ways and means of implementing the Sacco’s strategic plan. “I have assembled a highly experienced team to help me accomplish this task,” she says. Together with the board, she has successfully completed some projects initiated before she took the helm of the giant Sacco. Top in the list is the ultra modern headquarters of the Sacco in Murang’a town which opened doors to members towards the end of 2017.
Mentor Sacco held its 41st Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Murang’a Sports Club on 24th February 2018. The Sacco was established to promote the welfare and economic interests of its members in accordance with the co-operative principles. Over the years, it has endeavoured to achieve that goal.
Mentor Sacco aspires to become the leading Sacco in Kenya by focusing on improved performance, operational efficiency and a strong capital base. This demands teamwork and active participation of all stakeholders.
“We are the only urban deposit taking Sacco in Murang’a County and a choice of many business people and households,” says Mrs. Ndegwa. Its mantra is: ‘Adding value to life.’ To realize this noble goal, the management has continually implemented strategies that positively impact the lives of its members and other stakeholders. By that token, the Sacco realized tremendous growth in membership and other parameters during the financial year that ended 31st December 2017.
During that period, the revenue of the Sacco increased by 29.7% compared to 14.6%in 2016. The total assets of the Sacco grew by 28.61% compared to 19%in 2016. Also, deposits grew by 21.26% compared to 15% in 2016. Loans grew by 27.54% compared to 25.5% in 2016. The most outstanding thing in the financial year ending 31st December 2017 is that the Sacco made a net profit of Ksh.123.5 million.
It also achieved a huge milestone since its inception by putting a 9-storey ultra modern building which is the first in Murang’a County to have an elevator. The building is a major boost to the Sacco’s asset base. It currently hosts the Sacco’s headquarters with the rest of the offices rented out. Individual members bought shares to finance the project. The Sacco’s performance in the 2017 demonstrates the benefits of a focused management strategy and a robust business model.
Responsible corporate citizen
Mentor Sacco understands the value of its senior members in which regard, it has ensured that they have continued enjoying products and services like any other member who still in service. Most importantly, in order to ensure that the retired members are not condemned to a financial crisis, the Sacco advances them Ksh. 10,000 every month until when they start receiving their monthly pension from the national government.
The growth in membership has mainly been realized because of strategically positioning Mentor as a Sacco of choice for all in the market. Its assets on the other hand have grown due to increased borrowing by members driven by the Sacco’s competitively priced and flexible loan facilities.
The Sacco supports the socio-economic growth of its members as they are key stakeholders in the attainment of its vision. It has fine-tuned its service delivery model by putting up a team of relationship managers who are able to handle the members’ needs efficiently and effectively.
The Sacco understands that embracing technology is the most viable way of growing its business given the current market trends. In that breath, it has partnered with the Co-operative Bank and Safaricom (M- Pesa) to assist in improving its service delivery. It has launched several products through its partnership with the Co-operative Bank which include: Sacco link visa branded ATM cards, personal cheque- for current account operation and cheque truncation for shorter clearing period. Through its partnership with Safaricom, (this has been its most innovative product) it has launched a revolutionary product branded Mentor Quick Cash. Through this platform, members can deposit, withdraw transfer, pay bills, check balances and also check guarantors from the comfort of their homes or wherever they are, 24 hours every day and seven days every week.