Tier one Sacco registers growth in profitability and membership, offering members a good return on their investment
By George Gichuki
In line with its tradition, NewFortis Sacco successfully held its 48th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the second week of January. Despite the challenging operating environment that prevailed in the country in 2023, the leading tier one sacco continued to register strong growth. To start with, its asset base grew from Kshs. 10.1 billion in 2022 to Kshs. 11.1 billion in 2023. Additionally, the membership now stands at 20,356, compared to 19,729 in 2022. In 2023, NewFortis outstanding loan was Kshs. 7.7 billion, compared to Kshs. 6.2 billion in 2022.
During his address, Mr. John Githinji, the Chairman of NewFortis said that the strong performance was an indication that members have a lot of confidence in their Sacco. “I take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the members, staff and stakeholders who have supported my board in realizing the year 2023 success,” said Mr. Githinji. “I call upon all members to continue saving, borrowing wisely and paying promptly so as to improve their socio-economic well-being,” he added.
Due to this remarkable performance in the 2023 financial year, NewFortis Sacco awarded its members high dividend and interests. This was based on 13% interest on non-withdrawable deposits and 14% on share capital. It amounted to a total of Kshs. 902 million, compared to Kshs. 795 million and Kshs. 741 million in 2022 and 2021 respectively.
The guest of honour during this colourful occasion was H.E Mutahi Kahiga, the Governor of Nyeri County who is also a member and former Chairman of NewFortis Sacco.
Emphasizing that the co-operative movement is a devolved function, the Governor called upon the youth (in particular) to join NewFortis Sacco. “The core objective of NewFortis is mobilizing savings and giving credit to members,” said Governor Kahiga. “I therefore urge the youth to join this Sacco in big numbers since its future is in their hands,” he added. Further, he advised the youth that wealth creation is a process and not an event and they should therefore shun schemes that promise them quick monetary returns. Governor Kahiga also applauded NewFortis Sacco for registering good results year on year to the benefit of its members.
According to Governor Kahiga, the county government of Nyeri has developed a training programme for the co-operative societies falling within its jurisdiction. In that regard, he noted that it is important for these societies to bring on board young leaders as part of their succession planning.
NewFortis Sacco was started in 1976 by an ambitious group of 857 teachers from the then Nyeri district. Before rebranding in 2015 and opening its common bond, it was known as Nyeri Teachers Sacco. In its early years of business, on average, every member was contributing Kshs. 20 per month and the maximum amount of loan that one could access was Kshs. 3,000. Times have since changed. The leading tier one Sacco currently has a network of five branches. The original Nyeri branch now has the branch and headquarter sections working autonomously. The other branches are: Karatina, Othaya, Nairobi and Nanyuki.
In its bid to grow its membership and deepen service delivery, the Sacco also acquired marketing vehicles for every branch in 2023. Additionally, it renovated and installed a lift in the headquarters and Nyeri branch.
In 2023 also, NewFortis Sacco participated in the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show that was held at Kabiru-ini grounds in Nyeri. It scooped the following awards: first position (best player in the co-operative movement and Sacco), second position (the stand that interpreted the show’s theme well among the non-agro based participants in the financial industry) and third position (the stand with the best display in mobile and data services).
One of the major objectives of the co-operative movement is to improve the members’ socio-economic welfare. Players in this movement are not driven by profit maximization. In that regard, NewFortis Sacco assisted its members to acquire land at the Mweiga phase two project. The members will hence be able to put up homes for their families, besides engaging in income generating activities like agribusiness.
Globally, businesses across all sectors have embraced digitization in their systems and processes in order to enhance their service delivery and product development. In Kenya, many players in the vibrant financial sector including Saccos, commercial banks and microfinance institutions have gone digital. NewFortis Sacco is one of them. “NewFortis Sacco will endeavour to leverage high technological intervention in order to provide effective and efficient real time services,” said the Chairman, Mr. Githinji, during the AGM.
Digi loan is one of the products being offered to the Sacco’s members via their mobile phones. Members can access loans of up to Kshs. 100,000 through this innovative product. It is available on a 24/7 (day and night) basis.
As a way of diversifying their incomes, many members of NewFortis Sacco have established micro, small and medium enterprises in diverse fields including dairy and poultry farming. In a bid to help the members attain their goals, NewFortis Sacco is offering them technical and financial support . Additionally, it is also helping them to access the market of their products.
In this day and age where people have busy schedules, NewFortis Sacco has launched an innovative product dubbed verve card. The card allows members to access money via verve-connect partner automated teller machines (ATMs). It has a very wide acceptance on ATMs, point of sale (POS) transactions and online merchants. “These cards will greatly enhance members’ acquisition of funds without making long queues in the banking halls,” Mr. Githinji said adding that more members should acquire verve cards since by and large, the future is bound to be cashless.
The three year strategic plan of NewFortis Sacco will be reviewed this year. “Its review and implementation will drive the institution to the next level,” Mr. Githinji told members and stakeholders during the AGM. Its key pillars will be : strengthening the corporate governance, growth in membership, good service delivery, technology as well as institutional capacity development. Going forward, Mr. Githinji observed that the board will focus on a strategic plan which will ensure stability, sustainable growth and development of NewFortis Sacco.
Globally, the co-operative movement is guided by seven principles including: voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, training and information, co-operation among co-operatives and finally, concern for community. These principles are aptly captured by the tagline of NewFortis Sacco: “Because we are better together.” It is against this background that NewFortis has grown in leaps and bounds over the years, defying its humble beginning in 1976.