Member Participation

The AGM being the supreme organ of the Sacco members should be facilitated by the board to fully participate in the AGM and other meetings of the Sacco including timely receipt of notice and documentation of the meeting including annual financial statements, corporate governance reports and other matters of importance to the members.
Prior to the AGM members should be encouraged to enhance their contributions to deliberations at the AGM through vigorous engagement at Zonal or branch meetings as well as Delegates pre-AGM briefings and conferences to ensure alignment of views and positions.
At the AGM, members should be given ample opportunity to raise any concerns they may have regarding the performance of the Sacco, as well as its governance, and to receive satisfactory answers to their enquiries. Voting at the AGM should be conducted in accordance with by-laws and the minutes of the AGM should be circulated to members as soon thereafter as possible.
Members should also be facilitated by management with easy access to information relating to the Sacco including internal regulations, registers, minutes of the general meetings, supervisory committee meetings and all regulations in force.
Other rights of participation by members include:
(a) A right to share in the surplus of the society by way of dividend or bonus
(b) Enjoyment of all the services provided by the Sacco including savings and credit facilities
(c) The right to submit projects or initiatives on improvement of the Sacco services for consideration by the Board.
(d) The opportunity to appoint nominees

Leadership in Co-operatives

Leadership plays an important role in the management of the co-operative societies. It is the quality of leadership that usually determines the failures and success of a business organization. It has been observed that most of the failures of co-operative societies have because of ineffective leadership.

Meaning of leadership.

Leadership has different meaning to different people. It is the ability to influence people to strive willingly for mutual objectives. It is the ability of a person to make people work in harmony and confidence towards the achievement of the individual, organization and community goals. Some people believe that leaders are born. Others believe that leaders are made through learning experience. Both beliefs are true to some extent. A combination of the two beliefs makes even better leaders. In co-operative societies the committee is the governing authority and is subject to any directions from a general meeting and by-laws of the society.

leaderLeadership styles

There are four different leadership practices which may be classified according to the philosophy of the leaders towards their followers.

  1. Autocratic leader- This type of leader centralizes authority and decision-making himself or herself. There is no participation by the subordinates. They have to do what they are told. The leader takes full authority and assumes full responsibility. This type of leader is usually negative because followers are uninformed, insecure and afraid of the leaders’ authority. Unlike the dictatorial leadership he motivates the subordinates by providing their need satisfaction if they do what they are told to do (I will help you members if you obey me.)
  2. Democratic leader-This type of leader decentralizes authority. He invites the subordinates to participate in tackling problems. This happens in such a way that the group and the leader act as a social unit. The leader hold consultations with the subordinates regarding all problems and adopts and suggestions made by them if they are of use. It is for this reason that the members of the group have regard for the leader (Do you members agree with my views?)
  3. Free reign leader-This type of leader depend largely upon the group to establish its own goals and work out its own problems. The group members provide their own motivation. The leader is passive and the initiative is with the subordinates. This type of leader can produce good and quick results if the subordinates are highly educated and brilliant people. They should also have sincere desire to go ahead and perform their roles with responsibility (What do members think we should do?)
  4. Dictatorial leader-In this type of leadership followers do their work out of fear. They do what they are told. Such a leader threatens the subordinates with penalties and punishment. As a temporary measure such leadership get results but in the long run it fails. This is because it leads to the dissatisfaction of the followers (Your members must do what I say!)

Qualities of a good leader

The characteristics of a good leader in co-operatives cannot be sharply defined but can only be generalized as:

  1. Self confidence – A good leader must have self-confidence based on self-knowledge. This enables the leader to win the confidence of the members.
  2. Ability to communicate- A leader should have the ability to communicate instructions and views to others. One may have good ideas unless he or she can communicate effectively then the members cannot gain from such a leader.
  3. Integrity- Leadership functions best when it is founded on integrity and sincerity. It is more than just being honest. It requires one to have moral soundness and uprightness.
  4. Ability to inspire-A leader should have the ability to exert influence upon his/her followers. Whatever the issue should be for the good of the members.
  5. Intelligence- A good leader should have high intelligence than his or her followers. This should however not be too much higher than that of the members. It is said that the members prefer to be led by the people they can understand.
  6. Courage-A leader must also have courage to do things which he or she believes are right. This means that the leaders should be in a position of making decisions and standing by them.
  7. Flexibility of mind-With a lot of changes taking place in the country socially and economically, it s desirable that a leader should have flexibility of mind. The leader should be in position of changing with circumstances.
  8. Good Judgement-A good leader should have ability to make good judgement and have wisdom to look into the future. This should be for the good of the members and the co-operative society as a whole.
  9. Age-Age to some extent plays an important factor. It is presumed that those that have lived longer have earned experience. It is also quite possible that a young person may assume leadership because of his or her talent/trade.
  10. Time for public service-The most important qualification of a leader is that he or she must have spare time for the co-operative society. A person, who is too busy and does not have enough time to get the problems of the members solved, is not recognized as a good leader.

Matatu Saccos Fiasco..how its fueled and propagated.

The new National Transport and Safety Authority Regulations had an axe to grind with matatu owners just recently. It ineptly, just like its many regulations and directives, said that matatu owners wishing to participate in matatu business, had to hand over their vehicles to Saccos/Companies. Handing over of the matatus to the Saccos under a contract or franchise agreements by the owners to be managed by the Sacco as seen in the draft of the regulations, was a death trap but thanks God it was removed or is it deleted? This industry is full of cartels and corruption plus immorality for your property to land on anyone’s  hands or is it pockets, let alone the Sacco. Why am I negative here and I am all about co-operatives? Probably the good question is, how is all these fiasco in matatu industry fueled and propagated?

1. Most matatu Saccos have two faces. One is the Sacco and another is the Welfare/Self-Help Group. Sacco collects members’ contributions i.e. deposits. Welfare collects what they call ”service fees”. The members’ deposits belongs to the members and the same is refunded when one leaves the Sacco (for well run Saccos otherwise forget it) and is also used to secure loans from the society. The ‘service fees’ is used to pay route inspectors and those guys who make noise on the stage whatever we refer them to. Sometimes this money also pays for sitting allowance of the management committees/board of directors and to bribe various councils to allocate them  parking space “shimo” or where they pick passengers. This money is also used to bribe the police, that’s why some Saccos never stop at a police roadblock even when overloaded or when “battered,” battered here meaning a wreck. Of course you know those matatus that are not roadworthy and you have that feeling that it could just break into pieces while at 120 km/h!! 🙂 . Sometimes back I had sat between the driver and and the other passenger and there was so much heat coming from the engine that I literally felt my ‘fundamentols’ getting fried bila mafuta!!

2. Most Matatu Saccos did not wake up and say “lets form a Sacco”. They were FORCED to. We all remember the directive of forming a company or a Sacco if you wanted to invest in this industry. This is totally, my opinion, against the Constitution Chapter Four-Bill of Rights that states: 36. (1) Every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes the right to form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind. (2) A person shall not be compelled to join an association of any kind.

The constitution also states: 40. (1) Subject to Article 65, every person has the right, either individually or in association with others, to acquire and own property––(a) of any description; and (b) in any part of Kenya. (2) Parliament shall not enact a law that permits the State or any person— (a) to arbitrarily deprive a person of property of any description or of any interest in, or right over, any property of any description; or (b) to limit, or in any way restrict the enjoyment of any right under this Article on the basis of any of the grounds specified or contemplated in Article 27 (4).

But here we are and we cannot enjoy our properties as individuals but do enjoy though grudgingly through Saccos and companies. Co-operatives work well where its members have voluntarily and openly joined them and where members (read matatu owners) saw the need to form the Saccos. You cannot tell people that “you have to be in a group so that this and this can happen…..” where are the group dynamics, the trust, the willingness to participate fully in cash and ideas, the commitment, the faith, etc. I find the directive lazy and assuming too many things. It is like they sat down and said…okay Saccos have really worked well for so and so, so we can replicate the same and we might even end up not having work to do but sit and reap!!

3. And let us admit, Saccos after the directive were haphazardly registered. I remember meeting one where the chairman did not even own a matatu and some Saccos had the membership of below ten contrary to the Co-operative Societies Act Cap 490 Section 5(a). Also the matatu cartels registered Saccos and most of those fronting for registration did not own matatus or were the “route” owners!! Yes, people/cartels own routes and you have to part with a lot of money if you wanted your vehicle/s to operate on the routes.

4. Regulation 5 of the National Transport and Safety Authority (Operations of Public Service Vehicles) Regulations states: 5(1) A person desirous of operating public service vehicles shall be a member of a body corporate which shall (a) be licensed to operate if the body corporate owns a minimum of thirty serviceable vehicles registered as public service vehicles or in respect to which an application for a license has been or is to be lodged with the Authority.

This regulation forgot what Section 5(a) of the Co-operative Societies Act states…For a society to be registered under this Act, it must—(a) in the case of a primary society, consist of at least ten persons all of whom shall be qualified for membership of the co-operative society under section 14. This means ten people cannot form a matatu Sacco even if they have 29 matatus!! These Regulations were made by Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure in consultation with the Authority (i.e. National Transport and Safety Authority). The Co-operative Societies Act  Cap 490 is an act of Parliament!! Your verdict is as good as mine!!! 🙂 Pecking order HAS ALWAYS BEEN-The Constitution of Kenya-Acts of Parliament/s-Regulations/Rules not the other way round. Regulations DO NOT TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER an Act of Parliament.

This tells you that National Transport and Safety Authority is at fault of not engaging all stakeholders and this only propagates the mess in this sector.

5. Police. A backache in this industry. Loose cannon. Reeks incompetence. No more words here.

6. Kenyans. Passengers. We are just there…….then accidents happens and we make noise and pray then we revert to just being there. I have never understood why we still enter a full matatu and still pay the same fare everybody else sitting comfortably is paying. I have never understood why saying NO is so difficult when an injustice is being propagated by driver and his conductor. I tried once making noise when the conductor demanded fare from a six year old who had been accompanied by a 13-year-old or so sister arguing that the kid had sat down. Mind you, the back seat where they were had three people plus the kid!!! I was almost dropped off and the painful thing is everybody kept mum!! I have never understood why when the conductor says “tusaidiane hapo” and passengers make “space” where there is none for another 120 kg plus human being!! I have never understood why we never say to the driver, stop overtaking on the wrong side or over-speeding or picking a call when he/she is driving.

Matatu Sacco management know this and fully exploit it. They know we cannot do anything. They know that we Kenyans feel that we are being given favour by them!! And they know we are always in a hurry and that we can sit anywhere there is space for a small-sized rat.

Police also know that we Kenyans cannot do anything. One, they have allowed not so roadworthy vehicles to operate as matatus therefore most likely they don’t have seat-belts and therefore we feel relieved when the police just checks us out and lets the matatu go when he/she gets the Ksh. 50. Two, the police own the vehicles too. Three, they implement the law, they starve…they have gotten so used to bribes that is part of their salaries and the good thing is that this is not taxed!! Four, we all like when police stops a vehicle and smiles or makes a joke, we are that easy 🙂

Good day.

REACTIVE LEADERSHIP IN COUNTRYWIDE SACCOs A NAGGING BUG!!

I will refer to this article Will Saccos Die in the Devolved Governments Era I wrote here sometimes back and how the leadership of countrywide Saccos have failed their membership despite the impending difficulties. I had said that remittance could pose a challenge, and it sure did and is still an ongoing challenge. We all read these story Ukulima Sacco freezes staff loans on Daily Nation and you wonder how comes the leadership of Ukulima and other countrywide Saccos did not anticipate this problem and come up with measures to safeguard their members funds beforehand. 

The leadership of co-operatives in Kenya are sometimes laden with incompetence beyond your imagination. Yes, you can see buildings with names of co-operatives written on them and see suited men and women looking important heading to board meetings. But the truth is, most don’t measure to the task. They are ineligible even to attend a baraza in a village.

Devolution was coming. Staffs of certain sectors were to be devolved. We all knew this. News were full of these information. But the leadership just sat there and opted to be reactive. The sane thing to do was to visit all 47 counties and establish a rapport with the salary sections. Provide them with Sacco details and make sure to get contacts of all the 47 counties so that whenever the monies are not deducted as provided for in the deduction list or remitted within the stipulated time as per Section 35 of the Co-operative Societies Act, then you know who to contact and not just sit down and telling your members that you are waiting!!! Get realistic what are you waiting for? Your Saccos to collapse due to impending financial challenges?

GHRISIt is a high time the leadership of the co-operative movement embraced technology. The government through GHRIS (Government Human Resource Information System) has provided (is it functional? Doubt it!!) an online platform where third parties e.g. Banks, MFI, Saccos, etc can login and access their members details. It would have been a relief if they could have used the system to provide deduction list or access individual members and have deductions posted for that particular month. This would have made it easier for county governments who in return would have paid the net salaries to its staffs and paid the various societies their members’ contributions within stipulated time. Things would have been easier and efficient instead of sending deduction lists to the 47 counties……this is where I start thinking if there is anyone out there who matters and has read what I have put here hehehe 🙂 Anyway, that is they way of the future. Cheers.

 

GUIDELINE ON OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT

PURPOSE

operations-management1This guideline is intended to assist the co-operative society enhance productivity through better management of the process of transforming inputs into outputs. The transformation process varies depending on the activities of a particular co-operative society and therefore each co-operative should formulate detailed operational policies that are specific to its circumstances.

SCOPE

This guideline explains how the co-operative can enhance its operations productivity and competitiveness.

RESPONSIBILITY

The board of directors, CEO, management and other staff members of each co-operative society shall be responsible for the design of efficient system that best meets the co-operative requirements.

PRODUCTIVITY

The co-operative should develop an operations system that ensures high productivity. Productivity is a measure of how well an operation system functions and an indicator of efficiency and competitiveness. The co-operative management could improve its productivity through:-

Production System Design 

The board of directors should ensure that the co-operative society has a production system that is appropriate for its activities. Production system design involves making decision about:

  • The product/service to be produced and at what level;
  • How and where to produce the goods/services; and
  • Who to produce the goods/services

The co-operative management and the system designers should simplify designs and come up with flexible, easy and reliable systems. The co-operative should be able to establish ways of making quick changes in the rate of production as the demand for the product/services changes. This can be achieved by training staff to be multi-skilled and adopting flexible work rules.

Job Design

The jobs within a co-operative operations system should be appropriately designed. In carrying out job design the management will have to decide on the person to carry out the various tasks and how the work is to be accomplished. Job design should entail developing clear work related policies on employee skills, employee safety at work place and workplace collaboration.

Operations Plans and Control 

The management of a co-operative society should develop comprehensive operational plans and control decisions on major expense items. Inventory comprising of raw materials, work progress and finished goods is one such item. The co-operative head of operations should maintain inventories at optimum levels by application of inventory management techniques. Where applicable, the co-operative could also strive for just-in-time inventory if possible which minimizes the expense of storing inactive inventories.

COMPETITIVENESS

The co-operative societies exist primarily to produce quality products and services that consumer’s want at reasonable prices. The factors that determine the competitiveness of a co-operative’s products/services include; quality level; quality reliability; and flexibility. These are explained briefly.

  1. Pricing- One of the factors that determine the price of a product or service is the costs of production. The head of operations should keep the costs low to be able to offer competitive prices.
  2. Quality- The co-operative should set quality standards for its products/services in terms of performance, superior features, tolerance and greater durability. The head of operations should ensure that the standards are met. A record of repeat jobs should be kept and used in performance evaluation.
  3. Quality reliability- A co-operative society attains quality reliability through consistent and timely provision of quality product/services. The co-operative management should set quality reliability standards and measure the frequency with which the standard is met.

MEASUREMENTS

The co-operative management should maintain records of the co-operative activities for use in evaluating its productivity. In deciding on the records to utilise, the management should pay attention to the following:

  • Process flow documentation that would help identify the strategic control points, or junctures in the operations process at which major change occurs. Since these points represent potential sources of confusion and inefficiency as work is passed from one set of work to another the management should establish clear forms, records and other documents to be kept at every stage.
  • Efficiency standards should be set to ensure that the co-operative resources are not wasted and to allow for meaningfully interpretation of the productivity measurements. Efficiency goals could be set to include among others: levels of scrap or waste materials; units that have t be reworked; length of time to perform an operation; downtime; time spent retooling  a production line; and time spent waiting for supplies.

FEEDBACK

The board should evaluate the information captured in performance measurement and communicate the results to those involved in the operations process. This is a key control function and involves taking corrective action, changing goals and rewarding high achievers among other actions.

Source: Co-operative society management and prudential guidelines manual developed by VAS Consultants Ltd.

Barriers to Cooperation among the co-operatives

danger1Co-operative survival in future will depend on the extent of the co-operation or integration among the various co-operative societies. In recent times, there were a number of splits of otherwise large co-operatives into small unviable units which have found it difficult to survive or even break even. Reasons include:-

  1. Clamour for leadership positions in the small splinter co-operative society. It is clear that if societies united, many present day leaders would lose or have to relinquish their positions in an enlarged co-operative society.
  2. Suspicion and jealousy among some leaders. There are those leaders who have inherent suspicion and jealousies and therefore will oppose integration or co-operation at all cost.
  3. Lack of appreciation of the principle of large numbers or the benefits of economic of scale. You will hear some leaders argue that the society is too large to manage. This far from the truth. It becomes too large only because the elected leaders to run them are “too small” in management skills. If the right people are elected into the management, with necessary skills, then integration will be the way for the future and the writing is clearly on the wall for all to read that corporation in future is irreversible.
  4. Lack of exposure. Most leaders have not travelled beyond the confines of their own societies to see that the way forward for international trade is through the formation of large bargaining economic blocks. Co-operatives cannot afford to be left behind in a fast globalizing and integrating world.

Co-operatives are faced with major crisis which they cannot face individually. These are:

  1. Crisis of management
  2. Crisis of capital
  3. Crisis of ideology, and
  4. Crisis of credibility.

If they are not careful, they may sooner face the crisis of legitimacy and relevance.

From the book?:

Title A commentary on the Co-operative Societies Act, 1997: No. 12 of 1997
Authors Murungi Kibanga ManyaraKenya. Co-operative Societies Act, 1997
Publisher Pearl Marketing Ltd., 2001
ISBN 9966969535, 9789966969538
Length 238 pages
Subjects Cooperative societies

Co-operatives are Endangered

I think the lobby groups that are required to champion for the rights of co-operatives in the country are sleeping and have been doing so for a very long time. Now with the devolution, county governments and the national government are making laws without proper consultation with the sector.

danger1We all remember the Finance Act that introduced 10% excise duty to Saccos with FOSAs. The Finance Act 2013 talked of “Saccos registered under Sacco Act 2008” which contradicts the Sacco Act 2008. The Sacco Act 2008 provides for licensing, regulation and promotion of certain Sacco societies to establish Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority and for connected purpose and not registration. Registration is the function of Co-operative Societies Act Cap 490. Now county governments are coming up with licenses or permit fees to be charged co-operatives in their respective bills/acts.

Here is an excerpt of Kiambu Government Finance Bill that touches on Co-operative Societies:

The following permit/licence fees shall be charged on the business listed in first column at the rate specified in either in the second, third or fourth column depending on categories of the urban zone

BUSINESS Major Urban Zone Medium Urban Zone Small Urban Zone
Large financial services including Saccos and cooperative societies with over 25 employees & / or premises over 300 sq.m 45000 25000 15000
Medium financial services including Saccos and co-operative societies with 6 – 24 employees & / or premises of 100 – 300 sq.m 25000 15000 7000
Small financial services including Saccos and cooperative societies with up to 5 employees & / or premises up to 100 sq.m 15000 7000 5000

Well the Kiambu Finance Bill seems to have not realized that Saccos are co-operatives by saying “financial services including Saccos and co-operative societies.” Sacco stands for “Savings and Credit Co-operative Society.”

Seems also the Bill targets the permit/license fees based on number of employees and or premises where they do business. I bet many Saccos do not have employees nor offices although they are required to. Many co-operatives officials usually store their documents at home or within the companies/institutions where they work so how will the Kiambu Government implement this?

Co-operatives are not profit oriented and some have small membership and cannot afford to employ or rent offices/places of business. The advantage of being under the national government is that this was understandable even the county councils and municipal councils were instructed not to charge co-operatives license fees or permit fees and this lead to growth of the sector hence being number one in the continent.

The Bill should have specified what does “small, medium or large financial services” specifically means. Not only based it on premises size and numbers of employees. Is the fees (license/permit) charged per business or premises of every branch and the main branch? Many co-operatives have branches in Kiambu County and therefore this is going to be costly bearing in mind the license fees charged by Sacco Society Regulatory Authority (SASRA) on the main branch and sub-branches. Also is the number of employees per branch on a particular premise or is it the Sacco or that particular business total number of employees? The Bill also should have specified between the premises size and number of employees what takes precedence. A business could be occupying a bigger space but has two employees and a business with a small space with more than 10 employees for example.

For co-operatives license/permit fees should have been based on membership or share capital irrespective of whether they are in the major, medium or small urban zones. The reason is, many Saccos are in major urban zones and smaller co-operatives in the major urban zones will suffer if this bill becomes an act and is implemented as it is.

NOTES

Major urban zones includes Thika Sub-County, Kiambu Sub-County, Ruiru Sub-County, Githunguri Sub-County and Limuru Sub-County.
Medium urban zones includes Juja Sub-County, Kikuyu-Sub County, Lari Sub-County and Kabete Sub-County.
Small urban zones includes Gatundu North Sub-County, Gatundu South Sub-County and Kiambaa Sub-County.

 

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