Saccos plan collaboration as new regulations take effect

Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (Kuscco) Managing Director George Ototo. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

About 800 delegates are set to meet in Mombasa today for the seventh annual Saccos Leaders Convention. The meeting themed ‘Saccos Collaborate! The Clock is Ticking’, will be headlined by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and Equity bank CEO James Mwangi.

 According to industry data, the Sacco movement has mobilised domestic savings worth over Sh400 billion, accounting for 33 per cent of the national savings.

 Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (Kuscco) Managing Director George Ototo said a key highlight of the convention will be Saccos putting on a united front to further member benefits.  

“There are certain services that Saccos can collaborate with each other. For example, instead of stand-alone branches in new places, Saccos can help each other share certain platforms,” he said.

Mr Ototo said Saccos need to complement each other, with smaller Saccos merging to create bigger ones that can serve members better. “This increases efficiency and reduces the cost of credit,” he said.

He highlighted instances of collaboration successes that include Kuscoo’s shared platform for smaller members.

Saccos have also collaborated with institutions such as telcos and used their money platforms. 

He said even as Saccos reduce the cost of credit, they should explain to members that dividends are bound to be lower.

“Dividends should not be a measure of success … Saccos’ main interest is social-economic. It’s about ease of access to credit and affordability of services,” Ototo said.

A united front is also important when it comes to regulatory purview.  In the course of this year, hundreds of Saccos are set to come under the oversight of the sector regulator as the government implements recently published regulations.

The regulations require numerous Saccos to come under the oversight of the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (Sasra). The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives in May 2020 gazetted a new set of regulations that gave Sasra powers to oversight Saccos with assets of over Sh100 million.

The Sacco Societies (Non-Deposit Taking Business) Regulations, 2020, which became effective January 1 with a six-month window for players to comply, also brought digital and diaspora Saccos under the purview of Sasra. Sasra previously regulated the large deposit-taking Saccos.

 Sacco leaders will also be seeking to tap into the wealth of experience and knowledge of Equity boss Dr James Mwangi.

Ototo described him as an SME specialist who will help Saccos understand the sector better. “We also need to tell a human story, and motivate Sacco members that can transition to something bigger,” he said citing Equity Bank which started out as a small building society.

Other keynote speakers include Abdullahi Ibrahim, the chairman of the Senate committee on Trade and Industrialisation, and Bishop David Oginde founder and team leader of the Catalead.

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