Founded in the year 1971 and registered under the Co-operatives Societies Act (Cap 490) of the laws of Kenya, Hazina Sacco Society Limited is a nationwide Deposit Taking Sacco regulated by Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA). The Sacco prides itself in promoting prudence and savings amongst its members as a way of creating a source of loanable funds. Originally at inception, the Society drew its membership from the then Ministry of Finance and Planning. Consequently and in line with Sessional Paper No. 1 of 1986 on ‘Economic Management for renewed Growth’ on liberalization of the economy, the Society opened its common bond to allow membership from other ministries, Parastatals, County Governments and the Private Sector. The Society provides a variety of services through Back Office Services Activity (BOSA) and Front Office Savings Activity (FOSA) in a bid to provide prompt, quality and efficient financial services through effective mobilization of savings and prudent administration of credit for socio–economic advancement of members as the Sacco Society Chief Executive Officer Mr. Dickson H. Okungu narrates to Corporate Watch Magazine’s Ker Mogallo.
Starting off fifty years ago with just over two hundred members, and with the vision to be a leading Sacco in provision of financial products and services, Hazina Sacco society’s journey has been nothing but an inordinate success attributed to tremendous endurance, resilience and hard work. Today, the Society boasts of over 21,000 active members drawn from the region and the diaspora and a spot among the most decorated Sacco Society’s in the region.
“Our celebration of the golden jubilee is indeed a statement of a journey. 50 year journey as it is, is not a short time. Our focus around the celebration of the golden jubilee is to reflect back and understand where we are coming from, what we have been able to do in the past, what we continue to do in the present and where we want to go to as a Sacco,” noted Mr. Dickson Okungu, the Hazina Sacco CEO.
He added that among the top achievements worth mentioning is the establishment of the three storey ultramodern office block within its premises now dubbed Hazina Sacco Place. The building was constructed without external financial assistance thus cementing the Sacco’s ability to use its internally generated resources to help the institution get a good headquarters for staff, members and directors.
“Over the years, we have seen our asset base grow, today as we celebrate our golden jubilee, our asset base has surpassed the 10 billion mark.
We also have been able to mobilize deposits and savings from members in excess of 7.6 billion shillings. Further, we have seen a very steady loan book which is in excess of 8.6 billion shillings,” said Mr. Okungu.
Since inception, the sacco has actively transformed members’ livelihoods, provided excellent service delivery and exemplary growth. The sacco also has a policy initiative that is keen towards giving back to the community under a robust Corporate Social Responsibility program.
Hazina Sacco, towards helping put in place the COVID 19 pandemic safety guidelines has donated water tanks, handwashing points, medication and sanitary ware to the vulnerable neighbouring communities. In the education sector, the Sacco recently donated study desks to a secondary school in Homabay County, adding to the list of its numerous CSR projects over the years.
According to the CEO, the Sacco’s involvement in CSR projects is a show of care not only for its members but for the general welfare of Kenyans. He adds that as a Sacco, due to their caring nature, not only because of the economic hardships brought about by the Corona pandemic, they have always provided members with very affordable loans.
“All our BOSA loan products are repayable at 1% on reducing balance, except for one. This is a statement which shows that we do not want to overburden or overcharge our members so as to make good returns.
With the pandemic setting in, we were able to unlock our potential in the ICT space such that we did away with the requirement that all our loan applications were to be processed here at the headquarters using physical forms. This shows our commitment to serving members by allowing online applications which are then processed and loans disbursed,” noted the CEO, an Alumni of the University of Nairobi.
Mr. Okungu who is currently pursuing a PhD in Finance has been at the helm of the Sacco for six years. He explains that it is always expected that not all loans borrowed will be repaid without a hitch. He however adds that at Hazina Sacco, the board authorized the management to reach out to members whose businesses had been affected by the Corona Virus pandemic and were thus facing challenges in servicing their loans to work out favourable repayment plans. This initiative has thus cushioned members against financial strain and stress.
“We reached out to members and requested those experiencing difficulties to come in and engage with us on a case by case basis. We were thus able to restructure loans for members who were severely affected by the pandemic. I am glad to report that even following the poor business environment, Hazina Sacco’s overall results by close of last year pointed to a very favourable position which we are proud of,” added Mr. Okungu.
According to the CEO, Hazina Sacco’s growth is anchored on aggressive growth of membership, 15 percent annual revenue growth, efficient cost management, improving staff welfare, and enhancing customer experience
Technology in the era of COVID-19…
With the Covid-19 disease, financial institutions especially Saccos that were initially not technologically savvy have been forced to embrace technology to offer seamless services to their customers. This is in an effort to reduce one on one interaction between staff and customers thus reducing the spread of the virus.
“Our ICT Infrastructure before COVID was not as robust as what we have today. We have now enabled members to upload loan applications through our online portal without having to physically come to the banking hall. At the same time, we were able to come up with mobile loan products; Mobiloan and Flash Advance Loan. In addition to these, members are also able to process their dividends in advance at the tap of their mobile phones.
The mobile loan products provide instant loans of up to Ksh 40,000 to members with a recovery period of 3 months. The commission charged on the mobile loans is 10% overall.
In the 50 years of Hazina Sacco existence, it has invested exceedingly in Information Communication Technology, Human Resource Development and Branch Network.
Notably, even with the flourishing digital space and applications that have been generated to support businesses, traditional banking and finance related interactions are still a serious phenomenon.
According to the CEO, members are still keen on the Sacco’s physical presence beyond Nairobi thus the need to have a physical presence in regions where members are drawn from is still key looking into the future.
Through the social media spaces, Hazina Sacco has been able to market its products and services. This has also enhanced the way the Sacco communicates and interacts with members and potential members in the country and even beyond.
Now and beyond…
During the 50 year celebration hybrid meeting, Hazina Sacco Board of Directors Chairman Mr. Evans Kibagendi noted that they are happy with the achievements of the Society. Hazina Sacco had lived up to the aim of its founder members who envisioned a Sacco that will provide quality and efficient financial services by effectively mobilizing savings and administering credit prudently for their socio-economic advancement.
“We are currently reaching out to members to hear from them on how they would want Hazina to serve them better. This is helping us up service delivery as well as make improvements on our various products especially the ICT based products such as the mobile based loans,” notes CEO Okungu.
As a Sacco regulated by SASRA, the CEO notes that operating within the guidelines provided by the regulator is key. He however adds that the leadership of the Sacco is very keen on return on investment. The Sacco has been very consistent with the way it gives back to its depositors. He noted that the Society has maintained an upward growth trend in all critical parameters, including high annual returns to members in form of dividends on shares and interest on deposits.
“We have maintained an average of 10 percent rate on interest on members’ savings and deposits and 20 percent on dividends payout in the last five years,” he said.
The Sacco has won numerous accolades for various milestones and is among the country’s well-managed co-operative societies regulated and licensed by Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA). The leadership of the Sacco has over the years enjoyed a positive evaluation from the umbrella body as well as the regulator.
“We have won the efficiency trophy four times in a row declaring our domination. We have also been feted as the lowest expenditure sacco over the years which is a statement that we use member resources entitled to us appropriately,” says Mr. Okungu.
He adds that the Sacco sector is recording good growth and there lies good times ahead but only with hard work and honesty in the various Sacco societies. Further, he urges that with the technological advancements, Saccos must be careful not to fall victims of cybersecurity as the world and in deed Saccos venture into digital lending and money transfers.
“We believe in an open door policy at Hazina Sacco, we thus encourage members to come in and talk to us because we too enjoy the same courtesy from our regulator. We believe that through dialogue and member education we are able to serve our members better. Our five year strategic plan is drilled very well from top-down and one of our focus areas in the strategic plan is about membership.
Recruitment, retention and overall service to our members remain our agenda. This we will do courtesy of the value they get from our services and efficiency because Hazina is the Sacco to beat, Hazina is the place to be!,” he concludes.