Meet Felix Ngatia Macharia. He is a proud owner of Mutemi dairy cooperative in Kamakwa, Nyeri County courtesy of Mwananchi Sacco.
“I joined Wananchi Sacco in 2003. Before then, I was a Chairman of another dairy cooperative where members used to take their milk; they get paid either by cash or bank cheque. I got challenged when I asked myself how I can be a ‘whole’ Chairman without his own cows to produce milk to the cooperative,” he begins his story.
Macharia did not have enough money at hand to buy a dairy cow but thanks to Wananchi Sacco for conducting members’ education in the area which opened a new chapter in his life.
“I was aware of the existence of many Saccos here in Nyeri and even beyond but did not understand how one could benefit from them. One day Mwananchi Sacco was conducting members education within our vicinity and just as a by the way I attended only to be empowered financially.”
He then opted to join Wananchi Sacco, saved for less than a year and secured his first loan.
“After saving for six months I applied for my first loan and with guidance from the Sacco staff, I secured Ksh. 80000 and bought a dairy cow. After servicing the loan promptly, there was a need for tap water. I then got another loan of Kshs. 80000 which I used to buy a tank and water pipes as you can see over there.”
With continued empowerment by his Sacco (Wananchi Sacco) Macharia managed to mobilize dairy farmers and started a Mutemi dairy cooperative which currently has over fifty registered members, who came together and with increased milk production he had to look for the means of supply to the market.
“I went again to Wananchi Sacco and secured a loan of Ksh 105,000 to buy a motorbike. This would help me in supplying the milk to the dairy. Currently, I am in the process of purchasing a Probox car, which can extend milk supply services even to my neighbours. The list of all achievement I have made since I joined Wananchi Sacco is very long. I even bought a power saw from the Sacco loans. I am a life member of Wananchi Sacco and ask those willing to join a Sacco not to waste time looking for one since Wananchi is here to grow together with them.
George Gichui is a Bodaboda taxi rider. He has two motorbikes and a permanent house. He attributes all the success to Wananchi Sacco, to which he joined in 2013.
“I was initially working as a Shamba boy (a gardener) for a primary school head teacher by the name Joseph Waigwa within my locality. The head teacher was also in the milk business and once in a while I could hear him talk of milk supply as a challenge even though I paid very little interest to him.”
As the famous adorn-age goes, ‘Birds of the same feathers flock together’ so was the case of Gichui and his friend.
“I also had a colleague whom we worked together as Shamba boys. One day we were thinking of how to improve our financial status to better our life. In short, he is the one who introduced me to Wananchi Sacco and since then, life has never been the same again.”
He says everyday he could save Kshs 200, Ksh, 300 or even Kshs 100. “I saved for about one year up to Ksh 20,000, applied for loan and bought a motorbike. I could hover between being shamba boy and transport service provider to Ihithe farmers. I even offered transport services to Mr. Waigwa (the headmaster who had employed me).”
“I can say that from Wananchi loans, I have moved from a hut to a permanent house. I also have two motorbikes which I use to ferry milk to the dairy, I am paying school fees to my children, and at the some point I bought a Tuktuk (a Try circle) and life has moved on.”
According to Geoffrey Kagondu, the Chairman of Mwananchi Sacco, Savings and credit cooperative societies remain the saving grace especially to people in the informal employments.
Recognizing that members education is key, he says the Sacco continues to participate in a number of activities such as Wambugu farmers training college field days, tea and coffee field days, milk and dairy factories meetings in order to publicize and market their Sacco by letting participants know of what products the Sacco offers.
The Sacco is also introducing a new product dubbed Sacco Booster meant for small and micro- entrepreneurs (the Mama Mboga, hawkers, shop owners) just to re-stock their shops with a pilot face in Chaka town.
“Here at Chaka we have two market days and so a shop owner may want to restock a head of the market day but doesn’t have enough money. These are people who may need only Kshs 1000, 2000 or 5000 shillings to stock up their business. Once you qualify, we can give the amount you request, ask you to pay weekly. The repayment period is one month. Once you open an account with us, the minimum deposit is Ksh 500,” says Peter Mwareri, Chaka Branch Manager and also one of the brains behind that development.
He says the product is also meant to introduce the culture of savings in the area.
“We are just about three weeks since we started but once we learn of the potential savers, we can graduate them to normal saving (Kshs 2000 booster loan to Kshs 20,000 normal loan). We want to help them inculcate the culture of savings and grow their potential.”
The loan products at Wananchi Sacco include, Development loans, School fees(for tea and non-tea farmers) loan, Tea advances, Salary (Mshahara loan), Pension loan, Coffee(Kahawa)advance, Emergency advance, Short term loans, Business loans, Milk loan, Milk advance, Group loan, Youth enterprise development fund, Women enterprise fund, Vijana loan, LPO financing, Asset finacing and Horticulture advance
The Sacco also has micro-leasing products that include Wananchi vifaa loan, Kilimo biashara loan and KilimoMazi while the saving products are Akiba jipange savings acount, Fixed deposit, Toto junior, Starehe and Investment accounts
Started in 1992 with only tea growers in Nyeri as members, Mwananchi Sacco has expanded over the years with branches not only in Nyeri but also in Karatina, Murang’a , and all the way to Chaka, reaching other sectors like dairy, women activities, youth and other farm business entrepreneurial services.
“Competition, technological changes and availability of information have made us undertake strategic steps to ensure that we remain relevant to the community we are serving,” says the Chairman