The Sacco stands out because of its innovative products and services that suit the needs of customers
By Adisa Hudson
Established in 1974, Stima Sacco’s objective was to provide a savings and credit platform to the employees of the then Kenya Power and Lightning Company (KPLC), now Kenya Power. Since then, the Sacco has faithfully served the staff members of Kenya Power, empowering them economically. While the financial institution continues to serve its initial customer base with the same verve and enthusiasm, it opened its doors to the general public in 2014, a move that strategically placed it on a growth trajectory.
Mr. Chris Useki, the CEO of Stima Sacco, explains the Sacco’s transformation.
“From the onset, the membership of the Sacco was limited to the staff of Kenya Power but with time, we realized that it was restricting our desire to reach out to many people and thus depriving us the opportunity to help them realize their development goals. Eventually, through a board decision the Sacco opened doors to the larger populace and we are glad to serve the numbers and see more growth.”
Currently with a membership of 103,000, Stima Sacco serves customers from all spheres of life.
Looking at the Sacco’s product offering, it’s not hard to see that it’s keen on changing the lives of its clients. To achieve this, the Sacco developed an innovative range of products and services that’s informed by customers’ needs.
“As a Sacco, we appreciate the gap of the haves and have-nots and as such, we try to equalize the playing field so that even the low income earners can access savings and credit facilities,” affirms the CEO.
The Sacco bridges the financial gap left by most financial institutions. For instance, traditional financial service providers like banks require customers to provide collateral before they can access any form of a loan. Essentially, this locks out millions of Kenyans from the formal financial system. Sacco’s like Stima Sacco lend money to customers using a different methodology, meaning that anybody can access loans without necessarily furnishing the sacco with title deeds or vehicle log books as security. “The Sacco is here to offer alternative financing models by reaching out to those who have been excluded by banks as far as credit is concerned. Besides, we also offer mainstream financial services which our clients can utilize to unlock their full potential.”
Saccos are primarily a savings and credit vehicle, and most provide generic products and services that only address the savings and credit needs of their customers. Stima Sacco stands out from the traditional Saccos because of its diverse product offering, created to wholesomely meet the needs of customers. “We have credit facilities that help our customers meet their agribusiness, housing, land and investments, education and insurance among other financial needs,” explains Mr. Useki.
Their services go beyond class, racial, geographical, religious or tribal boundaries and serve all humanity.
Over the years, Stima Sacco has maintained its position as one of the most successful Saccos in the country. Mr. Useki attributes the Saccos impressive run to good governance structures that the Sacco abides with.”The success of any institution is in a big way pegged on its governance structures. Our robust governance structures promote transparency and accountability that have defined the ethics of our operations,”says Mr. Useki.
Technology plays an integral part in the finacial sector. According to the CEO, the Sacco keeps on innovating to keep up with the dynamic nature of technology. He says that companies that fail to embrace technology face an imminent risk of failure. “We have been and are constantly on the lookout for new trends and developments in the industry. We are keen to adapt to these new changes and innovate our financial models and product offering in order to address the ever changing market needs.”
One of the Saccos innovation is M-Stima, a service that allows membersof Stima Sacco to withdraw or deposit fundsfrom their account through MPESA.
“M-Pesa has disrupted the mobile banking industry. We have had to realign our technology needs with such innovations.”
The Sacco introduced an innovative banking platform dubbed M-Pawa to allow members to send, receive and borrow money from the Sacco using their mobile phones. One can access loan of up to Kshs 100,000 repayable in 6 months.”
With the M-PAWA app, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store, one can check balance, get mini statements, and transfer cash both internally and externally to other members and also borrow money through the M-Advance feature.
Financial institutions are increasingly targeting millenials with cutting edge products and services that seek to inculcate a saving culture in this demographic. According to research, most millenials do not have a saving culture and live for the moment. They are also known to be obsessed with overnight riches and get-rich-quick schemes.
Mr. Useki challenges them to consider the Sacco’s saving products and digital financial solutions to transform their lives.
To make it easier for the youth to join the Sacco, they introduced an e-form system for registration and loan application. All a person needs to do is to fill and submit digital forms which are then approved electronically. “We have also partnered with colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning to set up workshops at their campuses to create awareness about our financial products and encourage students to start their savings journey.”
The CEO adds that the Sacco is critically looking at the ever growing housing industry as its next frontier as it seeks to deliver affordable housing to its members. “There is immense need for housing solutions and we aim to develop houses for most of our members and Kenyans at large. We are also keen to partner with the government (it has identified housing as one of its BIG Four Agenda) and other key stakeholders in the property industry to develop affordable housing.”
In conclusion, the CEO says, “At Stima Sacco, we have something for everyone. We impact livelihoods through our financial models. Join us, for a better tomorrow.”