Leading deposit taking Sacco achieves a major milestone in its quest to conquer more market share
By George Gichuki
Stima Sacco recently launched Shariah-compliant products and services. This is a major milestone for the deposit taking Sacco as it seeks to attain more growth in profitability and membership. In view of this development, Mr. Peter Munya, the Cabinet Secretary, ministry of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and co-operatives said: “Stima Sacco has opened a window for people who subscribe to the principles of Islamic finance to join it, save with it, invest in it and access credit,” adding that the Sacco remains on a growth path as more members come on board. During the momentous occasion, Mr. Juma Mvudi, a specialist on Islamic guidelines and Shariah compliance policies, enlightened the guests on some of the steps that Stima Sacco had to undertake before becoming Shariah compliant.
In the same vein, he assured Stima Sacco members and the guests present that the Shariah compliant committee was committed to making the unveiled Shariah-compliant products and services the most competitive in the market. The introduction of these products and services is in line with Stima Sacco’s commitment to redefine the financial wellness of its members through innovative financial services and product development. By the same token, Mrs. Rebecca Miano, the National Chairperson of Stima Sacco said: “We assure the government that as a Sacco, we will adhere to the regulations and policies that govern the provision of Shariah – compliant co-operative products and services.”
Stima Sacco has a full range of Shariah compliant investment accounts and financing products available under the Yasar banner. Yasar is a word derived from Arabic. It means wealth or prosperity – that is what Stima Sacco envisions for its members.
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 pre-exist as conventional and have thus been restructured to adhere to the Shariah principles of Islamic finance. In that regard, Dr. Gamaliel Hassan, the Chief Executive Officer of Stima Sacco 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.”
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, Murabaha, 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, Stima Sacco 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.