In an organisational context, transformation means a process of profound and radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness. Unlike ‘turnaround’, (which implies incremental progress on the same plane), transformation implies a basic change of character and little or no resemblance with the past structure.
Since inception, in an effort to realise its vision, Tower Sacco has undergone tremendous transformation. The economic environment, technological change, legal framework and diversified members’ needs have been great catalysts in the Sacco’s transformation process.
During the last two decades, there has been a remarkable revolution in the co-operative sector. Since the year 1999 most of the SACCOs have established front office Sacco activities commonly referred to as FOSA to accord their members banking services at affordable rates. The idea of establishing FOSA was conceived due to difficulties that the co-operative members faced in accessing banking services in the commercial banks.
The banks account operating minimum balance and the transaction charges were set too high that the common person could not bear. This fact led to the introduction of FOSA’s by most of the Co-operatives. Tower SACCO was not left behind since it opened its FOSA section in the year 1999 when the members started enjoying services of salary processing, issuance of banker’s cheques, access to salary advances, funds transfers, cheque clearing, among others.
During the SACCO’s formation stage, the Sacco members had a common bond. The people who would join the SACCO, referred to as the Co-operative Society by then were only teachers. The SACCO retained the common bond until the year 2009 when it was opened to the general public. The opening of the common bond had a great advantage to the SACCO. The SACCO has grown in all spheres ranging from membership to branch network.
Nothing gets transformed in your life until your mind is transformed.
After opening the common bond, the society rebranded and changed its name from Nyandarua Teachers SACCO to Tower SACCO. This has led to significant growth in membership and branch network.
The SACCO has set up a marketing and education on department to ensure that all the members of the Society are well informed about products and services. The SACCO has also transformed its customer service experience by setting up a website where the public can source information about the SACCO. The SACCO has adopted social media platforms where members concerns are also addressed on a real time basis.
In the year 2006, the SACCO opened its first branch in Engineer town with an objective of taking services closer to the members. Presently the SACCO has got ten branches and nine satellites located in various parts of the country. Before the SACCO opened the front office services, all records were maintained on manual system members statements were maintained on manual records whereby a lot of time was spent to update records. In the year 1999, the SACCO computerised its system which greatly enhanced efficiency in member’s service delivery.
The SACCO has since then upgraded the management information system and embraced emerging technological advancement. Presently, the SACCO has fully computerised all its systems. The SACCO started offering ATM services to the members in the year 2007. This was a great stride in ensuring that the members accessed their money through VISA branded ATM machines at their convenience.
Transformation is an on-going process that tends to appear ordinary, when in fact, something extraordinary is taking place.
There after the SACCO launched Mobile banking services to the members. The members started accessing their money through a mobile phone platform in addition to the ATMs. In an effort of taking services closer to the members, the SACCO has set up satellite branches in various locations. In the Satellites, the members can make cash transactions like cash deposits, cash withdrawals, cheque deposits, make all enquiries alongside other services.
Legislation of the co-operative sector is changing as the sector grows. Initially, the Sacco was governed by the Co-operative societies Act Cap 490. The act was amended on various occasions due to emerging issues in the co-operative sector. In 2008, a SACCO bill was introduced in Parliament which bore the Sacco Societies Act No. 14 of 2008 which governs deposit taking SACCOs. The Act introduced a SACCO’s regulating organ, the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority. The Authority supervises all SACCO operations, a fact that has strengthened the SACCO sector. The general public has built confidence in Sacco operations due to the government supervision.
The SACCO transformation has led to people in the Diaspora to learn about the society. Improved communication has enabled the society to reach Kenyans in the diaspora.
In conclusion, the Sacco in pursuit of its vision has embarked on a transformation process that will really change the processes in the organisation for better and effective service delivery to the members.
THE Writer is the CEO of Tower Sacco Ltd