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Saccos a godsend, say Kenyans who saved then took loans to invest

NATIONAL
By Standard Team | August 24th 2021
Timothy Sande's Kamsa Poultry farm in Sinyolo, Kisumu West. (Kevine Omollo, Standard)

Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) have helped millions of Kenyans realise their investment dreams. Overtime, they have proved to be reliable sources of financial solutions to small-holder investors, many of whom have benefitted from loans extended to them at reasonable rates. In this special report, The Standard spoke to farmers and traders who attribute their success to their Sacco savings and loans.   

Kisumu

For 22 years, Samson Anchinga, 77, has been saving with Archivers Sacco Society Limited.

Anchinga has borrowed more than Sh5 million from the Sacco to expand his tea farm in Nyamache, Kisii County. He has also bought a commercial plot in Kilgoris where he has put up a mall.

The retired teacher has also bought more land in his village and improved his home. All his children have benefited from his savings and borrowing at the Sacco founded by tea farmers in Bobasi.

The farmers established because most of them could not access bank loans and had to travel long distance to access banking services in Kisii town.

It evolved from the 500-member Bobasi Tea Growers Sacco which covered Nyaribari and Bomachoge sub counties to now Kenya Archivers Sacco Limited with a customer base of 75,000 members covering Kisii and Nyamira Counties.

“There’s no better investment I could have done than saving my money in the Sacco. My life and that of my family will never be the same again. There is something for my children and grandchildren,” he says.

Anchinga says he was among the first directors in the Sacco. “I have seen tea farmers borrow from the Sacco to diversify their farming. Our success has been the repayment plan.” 

Kakamega

Were it not for a loan borrowed from a Sacco, Samuel Bittok would have been unable to expand his photography business. He is the owner of Zero 37 mega photo studio at Ambere Furaha Centre in Kakamega.

“My first loan was Sh400,000 which I borrowed from a commercial bank. It attracted a high interest rate,” Bittok told The Standard yesterday.

The businessman was not a member of a Sacco then and running to the bank for a loan was the only option for him. “I had to struggle and repay the loan whose interest was 20 per cent for six months.”

The father of two then joined the Kakamega County Photography Sacco in 2018 and has never regretted it. “As a member, it has been easy to access quick and affordable loans,” he says. 

He has in the past secured loans to expand his business and for other projects. “I have invested some of the money in sugarcane farming in Kakamega North. It is a lucrative venture,” he says. 

Recently, he was got a Sh70,000 loan to expand his sugarcane farming. “The interest rate is just five per cent which is affordable and gives one ample time to repay.”

Henry Manya, 61, was first given a loan in 1987 when he was barely four years into employment. The retired teacher borrowed Sh30,000 which was enough to put up a home for his family then.

“I was a member of the Kakamega Teachers Co-operative Savings and Credit Sacco which later rebranded to Invest and Grow (IG) Sacco. “I built a semi-permanent house but moved out later to a more decent home.”

Like many of his colleagues employed around 1984, Manya would take home Sh1,200 net pay. The Sacco therefore came in handy. Teachers would pay Sh20 admission fee to secure membership. On top, they had to commit to save at least Sh500 every month with the Sacco.

Nakuru

Kapsoit in Ainamoi, Kericho County, is one of the fastest-growing trading centres with a huge market for milk. This is the opportunity Mrs Jenifer Cheruiyot saw and decided to fill by venturing into dairy farming.

But without the capital to establish a dairy unit, Cheruiyot had to rely on the kilimo loan facility from Imarisha Savings and Credit Cooperative Society.

Cheruiyot’s then started off with three cows in 2014. Today, she owns 16 pedigree dairy cows besides calves and the bulls she has sold over the years. “I took a loan of Sh340,000 which I used to buy the first two pedigree cows from a dairy farmer in Githungiri,” she said.

From the two cows, the farmer produced 1,000 litres of milk per month which could fetch her Sh40,000. She paid up the loan after two years. Buoyed by the success, Chepkwony said she applied for another loan of Sh600,000 from the Sacco  to buy five more pedigree cows.

Dairy farming

Eight years since Cheruiyot plunged into dairy farming, she is not looking back.

“Now I produce around 6,000 litres of milk per day which sells at Sh25 per litre. This fetches Sh270,000. I plan to have around 30 pedigree cows in two years,” she says. 

In Kiptaldal village in Belgut, Imarisha Sacco’s member Grace Ng’eno, a tea farmer who once owned a quarter acre of land under tea, has expanded the plantation to two and a half acres.

“I used the first Kilimo loan of Sh50,000 to buy 1,000 tea seedlings after paying off the first loan. I went back to the Sacco applied for a Sh320,000 loan to expand my farm to two and a half acres,” she said.

From the tea farm, Ngeno plucks between 1000 and 2000 kilograms of green leaf depending on the season. “This earns me between Sh20,000 and Sh40,000 per month depending on the season,” she said.

Then there is Aaron Kemei who ten years ago was a nondescript livestock trader and butcher. Today he runs four thriving butcheries  in Kapsoit and Sosiot.

“I can trace my success to the Sh100,000 Binafsi loans I took from Imarisha Sacco. It has enabled me to increase the number of goats and sheep I buy for slaughter from five to 30 animals,” he said.

Eldoret

Since he first registered as a member of a Sacco 40 years ago, William Kan Maritim has never regretted his move. As he reflects back on his initial deposit of Sh250 per month to Mwalimu National Sacco, Maritim describes his investment path and financial stability as ‘enormous’.

Even after retirement as Chief Principal at Tambach Teachers’ Training College, Maritim has maintained saving at the society where he is categorised as ‘senior saver’.

As a fresh high school teacher posted in 1981 after graduating from university, Maritim earned a basic salary of Sh1,750. And from a net pay of Sh950 after deductions, he sacrificed Sh250 every month to accumulate his shares.

He recalls that after accumulating Sh6,000 of his savings, he took an initial loan of Sh25,000, which he deposited for a five-acre plot near Kangundo Road in Nairobi.

“I deposited the loan on the property and used my financial resources also from farming to clear the total amount of Sh72,000 for the property,” he said.

The teacher went ahead to acquire credit facilities and invested in buying land machinery including a tractor, as well as leasing farms in Uasin Gishu where he cultivated maize and wheat to supplement his earnings.

He grew his farming in Uasin Gishu, cultivating over 20 acres of maize and wheat, later using the proceeds to top up a loan and invest in a 50 acre farm in Ziwa, Uasin Gishu and two units of a flat in Kitengela, Nairobi.

Nyeri

Twenty five years ago, Francis Wagocho Wanjohi was encouraged by friends to start saving in a local Sacco.

Wanjohi, a retired public servant, owns buildings in Murang’a and Juja towns financed by loans he got from Unaitas Sacco, formerly Muramati Sacco.

Wanjohi operates guest rooms in the two towns. He turned to the Sacco after a commercial bank objected to his loan application.

 “A friend realised the hurdles I was going through and encouraged me to invest the Sacco. I opened an account and bought shares worth Sh1,000,” he says.

[Eric Abuga, Boniface Gikandi, Titus Too, Nikko Tanui, Jackline Inyanji]

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