THE BEST SACCOS TO JOIN IN KENYA

Mentor Sacco members keenly following the MID at Kikuyu Township Primary School.
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By Joseph Macharia

Savings and credit co-operatives societies (Saccos) is the fastest growing subsector in Kenya’s co-operative movement. Every year, deposits by members are making new highs. Similarly, the number of new members who are joining Saccos is growing at a very high rate.

According to the ministry of co-operatives and micro, small and medium enterprises development, there are over five thousand registered Saccos in Kenya.  While joining a Sacco might be one of the most important decisions an individual can make, it’s worth considering a few key things before making such a move.

Since Saccos are owned by members, it’s crucial to understand how they operate. To become a member, an individual needs to buy a given number of shares, as per the Sacco’s by-laws. After that, a minimum monthly non-withdrawable deposit is required. For the members who are employed, this amount is deducted from their salaries.

A good number of the leading Saccos in Kenya have opened their common bond. In that regard,  individuals  from different professional  backgrounds –  in  both the private and public sectors – as well as business  people  can  join  these Saccos in so far as they adhere to the  laid  down requirements.  As a  prudent investor,  before  deciding on  the  Sacco to  join , it is  important  to consider the following:

Proximity to the Sacco

Some regions in the country have multiple Saccos, others have few. You should pick a Sacco that is within your locality. There are good reasons for this. Firstly, you will able to access front office service activities (FOSA) within the nearby branches or from the main office. In case of technical hitches, you can walk in and have your issues attended to quickly.

Though there are online means of having problems addressed, visiting a branch in person enhances the customer experience. It also reinforces the pride of being a member. Moreover, if the Sacco is not located far from  where  you  reside, then  you are able to attend  its Annual General Meetings (AGMs) where key decisions are made. The warmth of being a part of a local Sacco has its own rewards too – socially and economically – since you are able to bond with other members.

Membership requirements

Next you should check at the Sacco’s membership requirements. Things to look for include: the minimum share capital, minimum monthly non-withdrawable deposits, and qualifications for accessing loans. Initially, Saccos were mostly formed by people in the same profession or under the same employer. Going by the recent trends though, many of them have opened their common bond.

Financial stability

It is equally important to choose a Sacco that is financially stable. One place to collect information about a Sacco’s financial status is its annual report containing: the profit realized, asset base and membership. Typically, you want a Sacco that is growing its profits, asset base and membership among other parameters.

Strong corporate governance

Saccos adheres to the principle of open and free democratic principles. Naturally, a Sacco with strong governance structures will steer clear from crises. To get a better picture regarding the governance of a Sacco, look at the profile of its board of directors and the supervisory board members. The caliber of the board will give you a feel of how strong the Sacco is in terms of governance.  

Interest rates

After having looked at the Sacco’s financial stability, as a prudent investor, you need to check its interest rates on loans and savings. By the same token, since Saccos pay dividends on share capital and rebates on savings at the end of every financial year, you need to find out the rates of the same. This will help you to know whether you will get a fair return on your investment.  

Fees

Saccos share profits among the members. One of the ways Sacco gets their profits is through transactional charges and other fees. Too high or too low fees are not good. You want a Sacco with moderately priced services to encourage members to wire their payments through the Sacco.

Tech savvy

We are living in an era where almost anything can be done at a touch of a button. One area to consider before joining a Sacco is its application of technology in the day to day operations. Ideally a Sacco with a digital app with integrated third party payment systems which allows you as a member to transact at your convenience should be a good option. Nowadays, most Saccos have ATM cards that allow members to transact beyond the normal banking hours or while travelling abroad.

Customer experience

All  in  all, customer  experience is where the  rubber  meets the road as it were. It makes a Sacco to stand out. How the staff  members  of a  Sacco  for  instance treats  the  members  will  either  attract or  put  them  off. You may have a feel of a Sacco’s customer experience by visiting its branch to make an enquiry.  Alternatively, you call its customer support lines to experience how fast the response will be. It is advisable to join a Sacco with good customer experience and a dedicated customer support team.

Going by their 2023 financial results, some of the best tier one Saccos to join in Kenya include: Stima Sacco, Kenya National Police DT Sacco, Mentor Sacco and NewFortis Sacco.

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