Even as many campus students work hard to improve their transcripts and impress their future employers, Mr Jack Kimani, a fourth-year Biotechnology student at Maseno University is following the footsteps of one of the most successful Kenyan bankers, Equity Bank CEO James Mwangi.
While his is a slightly different start from that of the banking industry genius, Jack is determined to rip big from the small business that he has started and is far from being spotted with a billboard along the streets of Nairobi in search of a job.
Jack, 23, started a savings and credit cooperative without any qualification in the business field. Though he says that lack of proper knowledge in the field and financial constraints has been a major challenge, Maseno University Students Saving and Credit Cooperative (M-SACCO) has shown growth for more than two years now. Jack started the venture to rescue students who have been struggling to save the little that they have and be allowed to borrow when need arises.
“The idea to start the firm came to me after noting how students begin semesters loaded with cash but due to poor spending habits and lack of a saving culture are totally broke towards the end of semesters. In the event of a worthy need, students most of the tme have to credit facilities to turn to — M-SACCO now fills the gap,” expresses Mr Kimani.
Launched in 2015 inside a lecture hall at Maseno University, Kimani says the M-SACCO idea received lackluster support from peers. In fact, the Sacco started with only four contributing members. After a few days, two students dropped their membership leaving him and another friend as the only people in the Sacco.
But in a surprise turn of events, tens of students started inquiring on how they could be members of the Sacco and two years down the line, M-SACCO enjoys membership of more than 900 students.
“I launched the idea during one of the lectures. A mere proposal of M-SACCO was met with instant objection from more than three-quarters of the class. Some even insinuated that I wanted to start a scandal inside Maseno but two years down the line, we have more than 900 contributing members” Mr. Kimani explains.
The firm charges every student Sh100 as registration fee. After being issued with registration documents, a member student is then expected to make a minimum deposit of Sh20 per day or Sh100 per week.
Loans twice the amount
The cooperative provides loans to member students. Kimani notes that members only qualify for certain limits of loan amount after making specific deposits over a certain period of time.
The amount of loan offered can be as much as twice the amount that a member has saved. The loans also have to be guaranteed by at least two members of the Sacco for funds to be released. The two guarantors act as a cushion should the member default on payment.
“Every student should embrace the savings and banking culture because it is the surest way to secure financial stability in future,” he urges fellow students.
Mr Kimani, who is the CEO of the Sacco, adds that members are allowed to withdraw funds saved in case of emergencies.
The venture is not without challenges, top among them being convincing students that their money is safe with the Sacco. He says that most students are not ready to let go of the small amounts they have if they feel that they will not access it anymore.
To solve this problem, the Sacco has an account with Equity Bank. Kimani adds that they are establishing valuable partnerships with other financial institutions and will soon launch an improved product with better services to its members. Kimani said that a deal with Equity Bank is in the offing and asked members to remain optimistic.
“The Sacco’s capital base is at Sh100,000 which is slightly above last year’s Sh75,000”, he revealed.
The Sacco is working on a program that will see them work jointly with the student Union. The student union leadership is said to have already agreed on a deal that will see them pay their temporary workers including DJ’s, event organisers, and designers through the M-SACCO.