A 21-member delegation from Malawi recently went to Mombasa, Kenya to attend the 16th Savings and Credit Cooperative Association Africa (Sacca) Congress where it tapped skills on how to turn Malawi Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) into vibrant establishments.
The congress, among other things, discussed topical issues of membership drive, risk management, governance relationship and was held under the theme Unification of Africa Cooperatives.
Speaking in an interview with Business News, the Malawi Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Muscco) president Dennis Kalekeni, who led the delegation, said it is clear from the visit that Malawi Saccos can fairly compete with banks if supported by various stakeholders.
“From the study visit, it was clear that enabling environment for Saccos has helped the Sacco movement in Kenya to compete with banks, evidenced by large numbers of members who are in the Saccos,” he said.
Kalekeni said most of the Saccos in Kenya have membership base of over 200 000, which he said was enormous.
In Malawi, the largest Sacco in terms of membership is Mzimba Teachers Sacco with a membership base of about 6 000.
He also said most of the Saccos in Kenya offer a variety of products, adding that the calibre and expertise of the people running the Saccos is of international standard unlike in Malawi.
“We have also seen that in Kenya, the Saccos are heavily computerised and it is a pity that now we are in a global world, but we still depend on manual transactions which are prone to fraud,” he lamented.
Kalekeni also said the informal sector in Kenya such as minibus operators are highly organised and involved with Saccos, which he said is not the case with Malawi.
While in Kenya, a Malawi delegation visited two Saccos namely Police Sacco and Stima Sacco before the opening of the congress which was attended by over 700 delagates.
Recently, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) advised all Saccos to embrace a culture of merging and take-overs for them to enjoy economies of scale and start competimg effectively with big financial institutions like commercial banks.
It has been learnt that Malawi has 48 Saccos with a combined membership of just below 100 000 against an active population of between six and seven million. n