After a successful launch, giant deposit taking Sacco now in a
countrywide drive to popularize Shariah – compliant products
By George Gichuki
Stima Sacco is the first conventional deposit taking savings and credit co-operative society in the Kenyan market to launch a full range of Sharia-compliant products
under the Yasar banner. Yasar is a word derived from Arabic meaning wealth and prosperity – that is what Stima Sacco envisions for its members. “The launch of these products reflects Stima Sacco’s strong relationship with the wider Muslim world and our deep expertise in financial market origination and distribution, embedded in a mature legal and regulatory framework,” said Dr.Gamaliel Hassan, Chief Executive Officer, Stima Sacco during the launch of the products. “As a customer centric organization, this launch also reflects our abiding objective to continuously respond to our members’ needs in diverse and innovative ways,” he added. Dr. Hassan further emphasized that through customer segmentation, Stima Sacco has gained a better understanding of its members, leading to a positive impact on customer satisfaction. To that end, the lender has embarked on a process of redesigning functions around its customers’ needs as exemplified by the launch of Shariah – compliant products.
The Islamic finance products are open to all members of Stima Sacco, regardless of their gender, social, racial, political or religious affiliation.
Whether in efforts to gain equity, save, invest, or get finance under Shariah compliant principles, Stima Sacco has a product to suit everyone’s needs. Some of these products exist as conventional and have thus been restructured to adhere to the Shariah principles of Islamic finance. In that regard, Dr. Hassan observes: “Islamic finance is founded on Shariah princilples expressing an utmost intent of meeting the financial needs of participants with integrity and in a manner that is just, fair, trustworthy and honest, while ensuring more equitable wealth distribution.” He adds: “It upholds the principles of good governance, risk sharing, transparency, integrity and trust in business dealings.”
According to Mrs. Rebecca Miano, the national chairman of Stima Sacco, the lender now has an opportunity to reach out to more members among the unbanked population hence deepening financial inclusion in the country. “We will continuously innovate and improve our processes and products menu as well as service offering,” she adds.
In a bid to enhance the uptake of these products, Stima Sacco has been holding publicity forums in all its countrywide
branches. During these forums, professionals have been engaging prospective customers as well as staff members of Stima Sacco on the benefits of Islamic financing.
Launching Shariah compliant products and services supports Stima Sacco’s strategic objectives and goals towards mobilisation of savings and ensuring that members access financing at fair and reasonable rates. The central feature of the Islamic financial system is the prohibition of paying and receiving ‘Riba’ (interest). Money is therefore deemed as a medium of exchange, a storage value and a unit of measurement, thus the prohibition of interest.
In this regard, Stima Sacco shall provide Yasar equity-based finance transactions, including Mudarabah, Murabahah, Musharakah, Salam and Tawaruq. The legal environment in Kenya has changed a lot since the first fully-fledged Islamic banks commenced operations in 2008. Amendments were done in the Banking Act in 2008 to cater for Islamic finance.
Subsequently, as per the Finance Bill 2017, changes were made on the Capital Markets Act, the Co-operative Societies Act as well as the Sacco Societies Act to make them Shariah compliant.The amendments relate to the inclusion of various definitions and Shariah compliant products in the substantive laws to facilitate the operationalization of Islamic financial products in Kenya.
Against this background, StimaSacco is grateful to the government, the ministry of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and co-operatives through the state department of co-operatives as well as the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA), the regulator, for creating an enabling environment for Saccos to do business and empower members. Stima Sacco members now have an opportunity to benefit from this alternative way of offering products and services. According to Mrs. Miano, this is in line with the giant Sacco’s mantra: ‘Empowering members for life.’ “ Stima Sacco has continued to immensely contribute to the welfare and economic interests of its members ,” says Mrs. Miano. “The Sacco has done this by enhancing the progress of its members and society in general – offering them affordable credit, a robust saving platform as well as putting in place initiatives aimed at uplifting their socio-economic wellbeing,” she emphasizes.