Letter from Standard Chartered Bank to Co-operatives and other Financial Institutions

These are words of a letter written by SCB to co-operatives and other financial institutions titled “Closure of Financial Institutions’ Accounts.”

“Standard Chartered Bank Group (“SCB”) has, as part of a comprehensive strategic review of its business and client segments in multiple countries, taken a strategic decision to discontinue banking relationships with certain client categories managed within its Commercial and Business Clients segments formerly SME Segment. One of the affected client categories is Financial Institutions (FI), within which you are classified as one.

The decision to cease banking the affected client categories in Commercial and Business Clients, including FI, has resulted from increased burden of complying with regulatory requirements for banking such clients. Key regulators under whose supervision SCB falls requires higher levels of client due diligence to be conducted on such clients, both at the time of commencing the banking relationship and on an ongoing basis. Satisfying the regulatory requirements for such clients imposes a significant cost and compliance burden on SCB.

In line with the above, we regret to inform you of our intention to close your account(s) with us effective 15th December, 2014. This notice is to enable you make alternative arrangements for your banking needs and minimize any disruption to your business.

We wish to state that this initiative has nothing to do with the standing or conduct of your operations. Upon closure, a bank draft for the balance in your account (if any) will be issued. Please pick up the draft at the branch where your account is domiciled. Cheques on the account(s) will not be honoured after the account closure. Do not hesitate to contact the undersigned for any assistance. “

We all remember when some banks locked out civil servants and teachers some years back through raising minimum account balance to 10 or 20k? Now those/that bank(s) are hawking loans in the streets and offices. Same story here. In this country people save and invest through co-operatives. By locking out these people, this bank is telling us Kenyans it does not need us. But thank God, we have banks that are still eager to serve everybody including co-operatives because they know wanjikus run this country however small their savings in co-operatives are!! Many of us will not have gone to schools/collages were it not for co-operatives which paid our school fees (school fees loans), they also provided homes we live in (development/normal loans) and paid medical bills whenever we were sick courtesy of emergency loans or even buried our dead through Benevolent Funds.

Banks should be investing in this sector instead of citing regulations and cost of complying with those regulations…it will be interesting to find out how much SCB spent on co-operatives in trying to satisfy the regulators given they posted 14% rise in 9-month pretax profit which is Kes 11.2B ($124.51 million).

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Registering a Co-operative Society

There are so many people asking about co-operative registration. I have already put up information regarding co-operative registration on this blog. To summarize it all, the maximum number of people required to register a primary co-operative, is ten. Primary co-operatives are like Githunguri Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society, Stima Savings and Credit Co-operative Society Limited, Urithi Housing Co-operative Society, Safaricom Investment Co-operative Society Limited, etc. The secondary co-operatives are the co-operative unions like KUSCCO (Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives), Meru Central Dairy Co-operative Union, etc and they require only two primary co-operatives to register them.

The ten people must qualify to be members i.e. they must have attained the age of eighteen years; their employment, occupation or profession falls within the category or description of those for which the co-operative society is formed; and they are residents within, or occupy land within, the society’s area of operation as described in the relevant by-law.

Preferably, start as a self help group and slowly build on the membership numbers and savings. This way it will be easier to convince the co-operative officer that your group is viable and can easily break even once registered. As a group, you would have interacted and known one another well before thinking of a co-operative. Its easier promoting a self-help group that has been existence for awhile to be registered as a co-operative than people who have just met. I am saying this because people expect miracles once their society is registered. If you cannot keep working on it, then expect membership withdrawals and subsequent death of the society.

There are people who have also been promised by politicians that they will be ‘helped’ once they form a co-operative. STOP. No money is free. Freebies will not take you anywhere. There is a story where a group of motorcycle operators were instructed to form a boda boda Sacco by a politician and as soon as they were given seed money, they distributed the money among themselves. Society became dormant.

A co-operative is about people not capital. Without people, there is no co-operative. The requirement of ten people aught to be amended if I was asked. The Co-operative Societies Act clearly states that if the membership of a co-operative society falls below ten, then its registration is cancelled.  A co-operative management committee has a minimum number of five and a maximum of nine members. A supervisory committee of a co-operative has three members. No executive officer of a co-operative society should be in the credit sub-committee. So, if you do the math, a ten member co-operative society will have difficulties in fulfilling the requirements of the Act.

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