Former students set up promising sacco
Former Kakamega High School students are about to turn what they started as a schoolmates’ association into a profitable sacco. Their sacco is named Gask, coined from Government African School Kakamega, the colonial name of the institution. The team is now on a rigorous recruitment drive which has already raised Sh2 million.“Our dream is to bring on board all alumni of the school to engage in savings and credit. Besides saving, members have access to various categories of loans,” Gask Sacco chairman Evans Abila said.
“We have a dream of growing the housing and investment sacco into a strong force that can enable members to own property. This will increase our revenue streams as well as create jobs.”Mr Abila said that some of those who passed through the school occupy important positions in society, hence the sacco not only targets savings and loans but also other areas like supporting each other’s business.
Focus on what’s really important, not most urgent
Formally registered in 2016, Gask sacco prides itself of membership of former students working in Kenya, the wider East Africa and the diaspora including the US, the UK, and Russia according to Mr Abila. To further accommodate its growing membership, Gask has registered a sister sacco exclusively for real estate investments. The minimum monthly contribution is Sh1,000.Members are required to make a core capital contribution of Sh5,000. Lumpsum deposits to boost shares are allowed. All deposits and loan payments are made directly to the sacco’s bank accounts.
The sacco is run by nine elected officials.“Setting up the sacco was not without challenges. We however decided to use our diversity as an advantage by sharing our different experiences to mould bylaws,” Mr Abila said.“We also had to go through strict screening from the watchdog. Officials of the Department of Cooperatives under the Ministry of Industrialisation keep tabs on our activities,” he said.Members were happy when the sacco set up a credit team with a compliant policy that is built on practices that prioritise integrity, he said. The loans turn around time is 48 hours with zero defaults so far.“I was motivated by my experience working with cooperative societies and having seen their success. I shared the dream with a few friends in the alumni through a WhatsApp group where we managed to get like-minded members,” he said. At the initial stage, Mr Abila said, the biggest challenge was getting a quorum for meetings because members are spread across the country and beyond.However, this was sorted out by the online communication channel.“Our teams are now working in harmony with full support from the department of Cooperatives, he said.“We have an online platform where we update members and answer their queries.”Mr Abila said that cooperative credit facilities have increased significantly over the years. However, Gask is not cowed. “We are looking at growth in the sector as more of a benefit than competition. The recent move to tax saccos will slow down people interested in joining saccos from doing so,” he said.“We however welcome the strict regulations as they control the mushrooming of rogue ‘Saccos” formed by individuals with motives to defraud unsuspecting members.”Though the Sacco’s core members are former schoolmates, Mr. Abila says that there are plans in future to include independent members too. “We target the ex-Katcherians (as the Kakamega High Alumni refer to ourselves) for the moment but as we grow we can’t rule out bringing onboard independent members.”