What started as a means to improve livelihoods among boda boda riders in Nakuru is turning out to be a study on how prudent saving and investment can transform economic status of a group determined to succeed.
The ambitious group of 10 members operating in Barut estate in Nakuru West, started “boba boda chama” in 2015 under a group name, Kianjahi.
Each member contributed savings of Sh100 weekly, which was later increased to Sh200, then to Sh500 and finally Sh1,000.
However it was no smooth ride starting out.
“It was not easy to convince members to stay. Challenges were there and even keeping those ten and attracting others was so hard,” narrates Mr Peter Kariuki, the group vice chair.
Mr Kariuki says members who believed in the vision of the group remained focused and became ambassadors. Thanks to a group of determined members, more people were attracted and signed up.
Gradually Kianjahi Housing Cooperative Society Limited was born.
Mr Kariuki says after attending a seminar in Kitengela, Kajiado County, together with the group chairperson Benson Sigei early 2015, they built a platform that has seen hundreds of other members drawn from different places in and outside the county join the group through a registration fee of Sh15,100.
“Our strategies were clear. We agreed to make savings that would accumulate into enough cash to buy a piece of land that would later enable us build each member a two-bedroom house before we decide on the next investment,” says Mr Kariuki.
Discipline, he says, is the glue that holds Kianjahi Society members together. Those who skip meetings pay a Sh500 fine.
“We heavily fine those who fail to attend weekly meeting for no good reasons. This has helped us maintain high discipline which is essential for our growth,” says Samuel Odhiambo who is a member.
In February 2016, the group had made tremendous progress with the list of members having grown significantly. They decided during an annual General Meeting to buy land for Sh1.9 million.
“By the end of 2016, the group had nearly 130 members. Our savings were growing fast and we had to come up with strategies going forward,” says Mr Odhiambo who has secured a masonry job at the ongoing phase two of the society’s housing project.
“Some members considered the new plans too ambitious to be attainable and pulled out.”
The pessimism of some members is understandable in the context of what had occurred in the past. The group lost close to 40 members after a plan to purchase the first piece of land at Ngata area went sour and Sh600,000 almost got lost to land brokers.
The society, however, was able to pull through the challenges and more members joined and in 2017 the first phase of their gated community project started, with 25 units. The project cost the society Sh8 million, which was all from their savings.
By mid-last year, the group had again accumulated about Sh2 million in savings with Rafiki Micro Finance Bank. From the savings they bought a 1.6-acre piece of land which was previously a sand quarry. It cost group Sh2.1 million to buy the land and restoring it to usable standards. They however embarked on making more savings for constructing houses which they agreed to be of similar design to the first project.
To achieve the dream, they welcomed more members who registered at a fee of the same Sh15,100 and a minimum share capital of Sh60,000.
Weekly instalments were fixed at Sh1,000 more to those members who had already occupied the houses.
“Every individual contributes a minimum of Sh1000 for savings every Friday. Those already occupying the houses in phase one, make an additional pay of another Sh1,000,” explains Mr Kariuki.
Members who are yet to clear their share capital make additional payment of Sh500.
According to Mr Kariuki, these amounts do not compromise their daily family responsibilities as majority earn nearly Sh1,000 daily.
What is interesting is that Kianjahi society is no longer the preserve of boda boda riders. Now members cut across all professions — teachers, doctors lawyers and business people — underliining how successful the enterprise has become.
Recently they borrowed Sh15 million loan which enabled them to buy an additional acre of land at Sh3.1 million. The rest of the borrowed money plus their savings will be spent on construction of houses in the third phase which will see all the 177 group members own a two-bedroom house. The project targets its completion by the end of this year.
Each unit goes for Sh700,000, and the cost is spread in a period of seven years.
The members say nothing compares to seeing their families living in their own homes.
They say they are a testimony to the fact that “strength and determination” is the only way to concur all odds.
Groups from Makueni, Machakos and Nairobi counties have vowed to emulate the brilliant idea.