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U

niversal Traders Sacco has conducted a series of annual members’ education days in different regions, to enlighten members on financial literacy.

The First member’s education conducted in Embu, brought together sacco members from lower Eastern region. This training was then followed by the Kitui Agricultural and Training Centre member education forum that was also attended by members from Kitui County and its neighbouring counties. Moreover, UTS again conducted the third training at Mlolongo town, which is the youngest UTS rapidly growing branch with a membership drawn from Mlolongo, Kitengela, Athi River, Syokimau and the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi.

The Sacco Chairman Mr. Fredrick Ngumbi and the CEO Mr.  Dominic Mutunga led the functions which were also attended by the Sacco Directors, Supervisory Committee Chairman Mr. David Mutava, all respective branch managers, and the retired Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Benjamin Mwanzia Nzimbi.

Together, the members underwent rigorous training sessions on matters business, savings and strategic repositioning in the entrepreneurial world, to remain relevant in the Sacco business.

According to the Sacco Chairman, Mlolongo branch, which is the youngest of all UTS branches, has a membership of over 840.

Currently, UTS has a loan portfolio of about Ksh. 1.2 billion and an asset base of Ksh. 1.5 billion, calling for the need to instil in the members, a renewed spirit towards the end of the 2021 financial period.

With many predicaments brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sacco has embarked on an all-inclusive process where members should build one another.

“Mlolongo is a branch of opportunities due to its entrepreneurial environment in Machakos County,” said the chairman. He called on the branch members to take up business opportunities in the area and raise finances to boost their savings accounts, to enable them repay loans on time.

With several companies and factories in the area, the branch has extreme potential to grow the Sacco members who are business-oriented, and UTS is in the opportune state to lend to each member.

Members’ Education.

“Education does not age, but the people,” said the Chairman, reminding Mlolongo branch members that education is one of the Sacco’s key pillars, stressing on the need to highly revere such training sessions. As one of the Society’s pioneer members, the archbishop said that convening a training for the members is a bold initiative, and that the Sacco should conduct such trainings regularly to excel in the cooperative movement.

“This training is very impactful and our joint efforts are a means to propel the sacco towards its objectives,” he said as he urged members to always champion for educative events and focus on their main goal of empowering members economically, through efficient provision of financial services tailored to their needs. Nzimbi, who is also a teacher by profession, thanked the members and the Society’s leadership for the tireless efforts exemplified in improving the Sacco.

“We need the loans to be repaid to enable other members to borrow and financially benefit as well,” the said the chairman.

Since inception in 1991, the Sacco has grown its membership to about 70,000, positioning it among the top performers in the cooperative movement, with each member purchasing a minimum of 100 shares. With a total of 7 branches spread across Machakos, Wote, Tala, Embu, Kathiani, Kitui and Mlolongo, the Sacco ensures, through delegates’ elections, that qualified and professional leaders manage the respective branches.

“UTS is a non-political Sacco and no member can hold any cooperative leadership position at the time of elections’,” said the chairman.

During the member education sessions, UTS also conducted free and fair election in all the branches.

Speaking on behalf of the elects, Mrs. Muthoni encouraged female members to be actively involved in seeking sacco delegates’ positions. She said, “Women have the ability to lead in any position, irrespective of gender disparity—just like the male participants.”

Gender parity is a concern in most saccos. However, to be elected, every contestant must boost their deposits to qualify. As for the empowerment of the younger generation, the Director General encouraged the youth with high shares to participate in sacco elections, a bold move that will impact their lives. Youth were also urged to embrace a saving culture, which is a means of economic empowerment.

“Youth are our future generations’ leaders who should be taught how to master the art of saving’,’ she said. All members must, therefore, build one another, especially the youth, to qualify for future leadership opportunities. “To grow oneself,” she said, “It is always noble to borrow for the right purpose. When borrowing, members should practice financial discipline and use the loans as planned.”

According to the CEO Mr. Mutunga, the participants in the previous delegates’ election were to fulfil all the requirements for consideration; a position actively sought by the members.

“The Sacco has seven zones spread across all its branches and delegates represent their respective zones. Moreover, the allocation of slots varies from one branch to the other,” said the CEO.

Future focus

The Sacco will open Mwingi and Mutomo branches in a bid to increase its branch network and visibility. According to the CEO, the Sacco will, through its 2021-2025 strategic plan, open the stated branches within the slated financial period.

Moreover, the Sacco is planning to launch an Agency Banking process by January 2022, and is in the process of providing its members with a till number that will enable them deposit directly to their UTS FOSA accounts.

However, the CEO urged members to be patient as the sacco awaits an audit process that is meant to safeguard members’ savings, following the increased cybercrime in the cooperative movement and other financial sectors.

The Chairman also assured the members that UTS is registered under SASRA, and that members’ deposits were safeguarded. He also noted that the Sacco’s main responsibility is to ensure that its policies are aligned to the government’s requirements, imploring every member to continue investing with the Sacco.

The Society anticipates that the new products will fasten the process of financial transactions and provide reliable savings and lending services to members for uniform financial growth.

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