Sacco progresses amid Covid -19 pandemic

The new look Sacco  headquarters complex in Kerugoya town which has an elevator and state of the arts offices to let in the seven storeyed building 

Bingwa Sacco has assumed an upward progressive trend despite the huge challenges posed by the breaking out of Covid -19 pandemic world over.

The Sacco has managed to pay its members a 14 per cent dividend even in the midst of this pandemic which brought the world economy to a standstill upon being reported in China in 2019.

With 19 branches spread across the country, the Sacco has managed to expand its headquarters to  an ultra-modern  complex in Kerugoya town without any external borrowing for the   project .

The magnificent seven  storeyed building  located  within the Central Business  District (CBD),  of the town  has an elevator to  comfortably cater  for its occupants  and visitors including  those with physical challenges.

Sacco  Chairman  Francis Muriithi's portrait  who succeeded  Cyrus Kabira , who was the founder chairman upon his  demise a few years ago.

According to its chairman Francis Muriithi  , the  SACCO’s asset base  stands at Sh 7 billion .

“We have a membership of over 200,000  as at today and we have accommodated the tea farmers  who are the prime shareholders , traders, teachers and all cadres of customers across the divide, “he said.

The Sacco was started way back in 1984 and was a pioneer in the tea sector while other  Saccos that existed only in  Nairobi depended on monthly contributions from employees.

Ms Jane Mugo , the SACCO  CEO   who has  been   navigating  the organisation steadily for many years

It’s founder Chairman Cyrus Kabira ( now deceased), was a visionary  entrepreneur who saw  the existing opportunity  and capitalized on it leading to this success story all are seeing today given it was the first rural Sacco  in  Kenya .

Initially the founders received  stiff opposition even from the government of the day leading to the then Commissioner for the Cooperatives  Erastus Muriithi to form a  task force which he asked to  examine the viability of such a rural  venture.

The Task Force returned a negative report to the Commissioner but determined , the founders  pleaded with Muriithi to give  them a chance  to prove their case.

Reluctantly,  the  official yielded  “and  the rapid growth and expansion we are seeing today is comparable to non within the  cooperative  movement years on “ according to the chairman.

The Sacco upon inception operated from a single timber room it  was   rented by the  then giant Inoe  Coffee Cooperative Society  situated within the periphery  of Kerugoya town.

Years later it moved to the town  center and rented a more  spacious office at the Kibetu Plaza from where the idea to buy a plot within the town was muted .

The Sacco then embarked on the building of its own office block which was officially opened by the  then  Leader of the Opposition Mwai Kibaki who later became the third President .

The  seven storeyed ultra-modern complex SACCO Headquarters  now stands distinctively at   the heart of this rapidly growing   agricultural  based economy town

The Sacco’s  strategic plan  ended on December  31 ,last year but the management has come up with another five year one in order  to ensure continuous  growth .

“The Sacco has  been issued  with a SASRA  License  for this year (2021), after having met all the set standards  despite the Covid-19 pandemic which has negatively affected the entire national and global economy,”Muriithi told the members during their  36 th  Annual General Meeting  held recently at the  Kerugoya Catholic Church grounds .

The society  , since inception has disbursed cumulative  loans totaling  to  Sh 23.9 billion to the members as at December last year.

At  inception, it was founded and registered as Kirinyaga Tea Growers Sacco but got  rebranded to Bingwa Sacco as a marketing strategy about 10 years ago  and to give it a national appeal.

The Sacco Chief Executive Officer Jane Mugo disbursed Sh 3.2 billion  worth of loans to the members last year while  repayment rate was encouraging .

“Despite the serious challenges the outbreak  of the Covid- 19 pandemic has posed ,to local and International  economy  our members continue to service their loans and this encouraging trend is a clear indicator of a brighter future for  this Sacco,”she said.

The  Sacco she adds has a  fleet of reliable vehicles which provide mobile services at the convenience of the members and who are mainly tea farmers  in the upper zone of the county .

Ms Mugo who holds  an MBA degree in entrepreneurship has been with the Sacco for over 28 years now  and understands it inside out hence  the tremendous growth , according to the chairman .

The  CEO says already  the Sacco has come up with new loan  products for the members .

“We have introduced M-Banking  services  which our  members have since  embraced  since our mission is to provide and offer the best as we stamp our presence in this highly competitive  venture ,”the official said.

Adds Mugo “ and support of the  achievement  the government’s  Big Four Agenda , we  have partnered with the relevant agencies  on the Housing  sector to ensure our members live in affordable but decent houses ,”.

She said through the Kenya  Mortgage Refinance  Company (KMRC), Bingwa Sacco was offering up to sh25 million   per willing  member  for housing purposes   and repayable in a  10 year  period.

“This move is a clear testimony of our full support to the government in its endeavor to achieve its agenda  four program  which was  spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta as part of his legacy in the provision of decent but affordable houses to the citizenry ,”the  CEO said.

Ms Mugo also said the organisation has  a workforce of 300 permanent employees while thousands others  were indirect beneficiaries of such employment .

The Sacco has over the years won various trophies for its unrivaled style of management by the rest  which is associated with its rapid growth .

They include best managed Rural Sacco, high dividend rate paying (14 per cent for several years running), while the  CEO and its founder chairman were decorated with medals  by the former President Mwai Kibaki .

They received the Head of State Commendation (HSC), medals each for the positive impact into the national economy and improvement of livelihoods of the Sacco members

Ms Mugo’s parting shot “this Sacco  is  like the Goma volcano in the DRC Congo which  upon erupting, soon , will spew branches all over  the country and the entire East African Region becoming  the largest financial institution  ‘’

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