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How Nakuru bodaboda ‘chama’ grew into a multi-million shilling housing co-op

 Some of the two bedroom houses owned by members of Kianjahi Housing Cooperative whose majority members are bodaboda operators
Nanyuki riders started in 2015 with contributions of Sh100 a week Earlier this year the group started the construction of two-bedroom houses in a gated community model

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A journey of a thousand many miles starts with a single step. A Nakuru-based bodaboda operator’s self-help group has proven this in its growth’

Driven by ambition to have something to take home once they couldn’t ride any more, ten bodaboda operators from Barut, Nakuru West in 2015 formed Kianjahi Group, pooling a minimum savings of a Sh100 per week per person.

“Being a bodaboda operator is a risky job and has serious effect on one’s health especially if you don’t dress properly for the cold. After attending a seminar in Machakos we decided to start making savings,” says Benson Sigei, the group chairperson.

The group grew as more members joined in 2016. After evaluating their progress with the slightly lower than a dollar savings, the members increased their weekly savings to Sh200 and eventually to Sh1,000.

“Before the year ended we were nearly 100 members. Our savings were growing and we had to come up with plans which some members considered as too ambitious and pulled out,” says Sigei. By mid last year, the group had savings of nearly Sh2 million and bought a 1.6 acre piece of land which was previously a sand quarry.

“It cost us Sh2.1 million in buying the land and rehabilitating it to usable standards. We embarked on making savings for constructing houses which would be of similar design,” he says.

To make this possible they converted the group into Kianjahi Housing Cooperative Society Limited and introduced Sh15,100 registration fee and a minimum share capital of Sh60,000 payable in Sh500 weekly instalments.

“Every member now contributes a minimum of Sh1,500 for savings every week. Those yet to clear their share capital make additional payment of Sh500. This amount does not exert great pressure on the riders since majority make nearly Sh1,000 per day,” said Sigei.

Earlier this year the group started the construction of two-bedroom houses in a gated community model where four houses sit on every 50 by 100 feet plot.

The cooperative recently completed the construction of the first 50 units majority of which have already been occupied. “We took a Sh15 million loan and in addition to our savings we bought an additional acre of land at Sh2.1 million. In the first phase we have constructed 52 housing units. 35 members have already moved in,” says Peter Kariuki, the vice chairman.

The cooperative has bought a third parcel of land on which they intend to set up houses for all members before April next year.

Members who in the first phase like Jackline Awuor are now paying Sh2,000 per month. Sh200 goes to savings and Sh1,800 going towards offsetting the cost of construction. The payment for the houses is spread over seven years.

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