I AM A SACCO MEMBER AND I CAN’T GET GUARANTORS

The issue of members who qualify for loans and not being able to get guarantors within the society membership is emerging as one of the most challenging issue faced by Sacco Societies. It follows that such members are sorryfrustrated and withdraw their membership from the society as they cannot get loans when they apply for them. Membership withdrawal affects society’s cash flow and other operations and consequently profitability.

This problem is now being faced by Saccos with check-off-systems as it was/is mostly reported in Saccos that do not have check-off-system. Saccos with check-off-systems are Saccos that receive the members’ monthly contributions/loan repayments/interest/savings from the employer(s) through a single cheque paid to the Sacco Society’s account. Saccos without check-off-systems, are Saccos that do not have a common bond as a single employer or more than one employer and these Saccos are mainly formed by business people, farmers, matatu operators, church members, women groups and youth groups. They are sometimes referred to as Rural Saccos and those with check-off-systems are called Urban Saccos.

The rural Saccos and some Urban Saccos have circumvented this challenge through the formation of “cells” within the society. These cells are groups of between 10-30 members. The members in a cell guarantee one another and are all responsible for loans advanced by the society to individual members within the cells. This means that, if there are 20 members in a cell, then an individual taking a loan has to be guaranteed by 20 guarantors! It also means that if one or more members in a cell defaults on his/her obligations, then the whole cell is taken to account.

How are these cells formed, managed and grown?

If a society has each cell with minimum of 15 members, the cell is allowed to recruit new members until the cell membership reaches 30 where it is split into two. The split cells now will have 15 members each and allowed to recruit more members and the cycle continues. Cells are formed and given names like Nairobi, Nakuru, Pamoja, Tumaini, etc. Each cell has a cell coordinator and a cell secretary where all issues are discussed, recorded and some solved within the cell and those that need the attention of management committee are presented to them by the various coordinators. All members of the society must belong to a cell for them to qualify for a loan. The normal loan application process applies.

Another important aspect of these cells is that of membership recruitment. All new members of the society, must be endorsed by the cells for them to be accepted by the society. New members are introduced into the cells by a member and supported by two witnesses who attest that they know him/her. The person is interviewed by the cell and if by majority votes they agree, then that member is endorsed. The management committee then will accept the new member after ensuring that he/she meets all other qualifications for membership.

Through meetings of the cells, which can be every month or when need arises, members socialize with one another and therefore it becomes easier to accept guaranteeing new members of the society. This is unlike where cells are not available, where one is not able to attend annual delegates meeting or any other meetings organised by the society. Also societies hold one or two general meetings in a year which is not sufficient for members of the society to socialize and know one another sufficiently so as to act as guarantors.

CELLSOne of the major challenge of cells is that management committee/board of directors and supervisory committee have to belong to the cells and therefore act as guarantors and therefore contradicting the policy that states “No executive officer, management and supervisory committee member shall act as endorser, guarantors for borrowers from the society.” In cells, the management committee/board of directors and supervisory committee are not allowed to be coordinators or secretaries of the cells. They are in the cells as members of the society and not management committee/board of directors or supervisory committee members. It will be difficult for these committee members to be guaranteed within the cell given the cell rules if this policy was to be enforced. It is therefore important that these committees members be allowed to act as endorsers or guarantors only through the cells.

It is high time Saccos must become innovative and introduce cells or come up with other ways of assisting their members access their products. It will be useless for one to belong to a Sacco and not being able to get a loan more that his/her shares and deposits. I am a member of a Sacco and I went through this and I almost immediately withdrew my membership and move to another Sacco within my “area of operation” where I know I could get guarantors easily. It is a world of competition out here, you can no longer sit in your cocoons offer the same services the same way and expect to grow in membership and surplus. IT CAN’T HAPPEN.

Ask yourselves, what happens when I am transferred to another region where I am not known? What happens when I am the only member of the society in a whole sub-county/district? Can society allow me to scan my filled loan application form to members of the society that I know who can act as guarantors and who can send to Sacco the forms on my behalf or send me back for me to forward to the Sacco? These must be answered….probably 🙂

If Saccos are wondering why their membership is not growing, then look no further.

 

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