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How technology will support the growth of SACCOs in Kenya

By Cynthia Wandia | April 1st 2021
Cynthia Wandia, co-founder and CEO of Kwara.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its disruptions have introduced a new way of life not only at the individual level but also in business operations. Virtually every sector of the economy has been affected.  

This has essentially changed human and consumer behavior and has further led to a great shift in priorities and preferences that we all have to adapt to and cope with going forward. Businesses are back to the drawing board to craft workable strategies that will guide their operations in what we have christened as the new normal.

It’s not news that the Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCO) sector in the country was affected. SACCO members affiliated with aviation, hospitality and other industries tapped into their savings to sustain themselves as these sectors were severely hit. Fortunately thanks to technology some SACCOs managed to continue serving their members even as they iterated around new ways to survive and thrive. 

Digital consumption was at its all-time highest during the pandemic. Technology aided a number of operations in many industries across the world. We saw a boom in e-commerce and food delivery space.

This then welcomes the much-needed discourse on the increasing need for SACCOs to embrace technology in order to grow and better services their members. SACCOs, being significant players in the financial sector and key contributors to the country’s GDP, can leverage the opportunities presented by technology to grow prospects, build wealth and positively impact members. 

Technology will facilitate a lot of processes post-Covid-19. Several opportunities will be in the digital space thus SACCOs need to rightfully claim their stake in this race in order to take care of members’ needs. The baseline infrastructure is already in place: internet access is widespread and increasingly affordable and there are a number of vendors offering cloud-based core banking systems depending on your SACCO needs. This means that there are very minimal investments needed to move fast and start operating in the digital space.

With member’s preferences also shifting, a lot of them are now consuming digital products. This means that they will now prefer online services and tech-enabled interactions to avoid the strain of visiting SACCO offices for simple administrative queries. Embracing technology to supplement SACCO functions will help to bolster capacity and grow productivity in terms of reducing operational costs. An automated system will serve many members at a time 24 hours a day, hence creating convenience.

SACCOs today have to play the part and entrench technology as the core infrastructure to run operations post-Covid 19. We are in the digital age and virtually all the key sectors of this economy are taking advantage of the options in the digital space. SACCOs are no exception, as stakeholders in the space we continue with the rallying call of encouraging all Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) to accelerate their digital transformation. It is the best way we can realize the full potential of this sector that has for years helped Kenya’s broader population build wealth.

The writer is the co-founder and CEO of Kwara.

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