Buoyed by a strong foundation and loyal membership, tier one Sacco defies Covid-19 disruption to register growth in revenue and membership
By George Gichuki
NewFortis Sacco successfully held its 46th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Nyamachaki Primary School grounds in Nyeri town. The well-organized occasion took place in mid- January. This cemented the tier one Sacco’s tradition of holding its AGMs early in the year. In view of the guidelines and protocols given by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, members attended the AGM physically, while others participated in its proceedings virtually. NewFortis amended one of its by-laws during its 45th AGM, giving room to hybrid AGMs.
The Sacco registered remarkable growth in the 2021 financial year, despite the challenging operating environment occasioned mainly by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The year 2021 had its opportunities as well as challenges,” said Mr. Mr. John Githinji, Chairman, NewFortis Sacco in his report. “However, we were able to wade through due to your continued patronage and support,” he told the members. In that regard, the Sacco’s asset base grew to Kshs 9.2 billion from 8.2 billion in 2020 and the membership from 15,758 in 2020 to 17,720 in 2021. The members enjoyed a dividend payout and interest on deposits amounting to Kshs 741 million compared to Kshs 663 million in the year 2020.
Mr. Githinji also reported that NewFortis Sacco embarked on a three year strategic plan (2021 – 2023) focusing on areas like: institutional capacity development, effective and efficient service delivery as well as prudent financial management. “There will be periodic reviews to ensure that these strategic objectives are fully and efficiently executed,” he emphasized.
As businesses across board continue to digitize, NewFortis Sacco has invested heavily on cutting edge information communication technology (ICT) interventions in order to meet and exceed its members’ expectations, besides offering them a cashless business regime. During the AGM, a number of members were issued with verve debit cards which will allow them to transact beyond the Sacco’s network.
Provision of affordable housing is one of the key pillars of Kenya government’s Big Four Agenda economic development blueprint. Against this background, NewFortis Sacco has facilitated its members to own homes through the Mweiga land project. The ambitious project is set to benefit over 340 families and some are already settled. “The high demand demonstrated by this project indicate that the Sacco should engage in similar projects in order to assist its members to own homes,” said Mr. Githinji. He also reported that the Sacco is in the process of rolling out the agency banking model as it endeavours to take its services closer to its members.
The guest of honour during the AGM was H.E Mutahi Kahiga, the Governor of Nyeri County. Governor Kahiga observed that his government recognizes that co-operatives are key drivers of socio-economic development in Nyeri County. “ Nyeri County has 179 active co-operative societies spread across all sectors of our economy with a membership and asset base of over 400,000 and Kshs.19 billion respectively,” said Governor Kahiga. “These co-operative societies help their members to pool resources for shared prosperity,” he emphasized.
Pointing out that he is a member of NewFortis Sacco and once served as the chairman of the supervisory committee, Governor Kahiga lauded the founders of the giant lender for sacrificing their time and resources in laying its strong foundation. “The founding members started by contributing as little as Kshs.20 per month which has translated into billions of shillings today,” he observed. He also commended the board of directors and the management team for steering the tier one Sacco to great heights. Nevertheless, Governor Kahiga cautioned the Sacco that even as it grows in membership and continues to spread its wings in various parts of the country, it should never forget its humble roots. “We should always remember where we have come from, while safeguarding what we have,” he avered.
Governor Kahiga also observed that NewFortis Sacco is a key player in the socio-economic development of Nyeri County.
“ NewFortis has generated many employment opportunities both directly and indirectly,” he said adding that by investing their loans in businesses and projects like construction of houses, the Sacco’s members have contributed significantly in uplifting the living standards of Nyeri residents and the country at large.
Most importantly, Governor Kahiga said that the county government of Nyeri has provided an ideal environment for the cooperative movement to thrive. For instance, for the last three years, the said government has been carrying out a capacity building programme at Kimathi University for all the co-operative leaders and staff in Nyeri County in order to hone their management and leadership skills. “To date, we have financed the training of over 900 co-operative leaders and staff members in Nyeri County,” he said. In the current financial year, this programme has been allocated a budget of Kshs. 3 million and the target is to train 600 co-operative leaders and staff members by June 2022.