One morning in December 2012, John Randu, a motorcycle operator in Malindi, sat down with five other riders to redefine their business.
The six met at the entry to Malindi at Kwa Ngala stage to decide how they would shape their investment in future.
“We had been in the business for several months and on that day, the six of us came together and decided to start a group,” Mr Randu, now the chairman and spokesman of the Malindi Entry Development Group, said.
The group, which started with savings of only Sh900 in 2012, currently has a net worth of about Sh5 million in cash and assets.
“We were six of us and each of us paid Sh150 as a personal saving. That translated to Sh900, the first money we had as our savings.
“That is the money that has transformed the lives of 24 members through loans,” says Mr Randu.
During an interview with the Business Daily, Mr Randu said the members upheld discipline in savings, borrowing and repaying their loans in time.
“Initially, the group was formed as a savings platform for boda-boda operators’ from different parts of Kilifi County but are based in Malindi town.
“However, we have now incorporated outsiders in our group,” says Mr Randu, who was in the company of other members at Malindi Baptist Church, their meeting point.
He says they formed the group not only to enable them to save but also to help members own the motorcycles since most of them had been employed.
Further, the group also offered members security against theft and also educated them on traffic rules and road safety.
“As we speak, we have now extended our support not only to members but also to the community, running a number of social causes.
“We have a school uniform project in which our members identify needy students with no uniforms in different schools. We then buy uniforms and distribute them to the schools. So far, we have reached Majivuni and Kasimbiji primary schools in Malindi,” he said.
After its formation in 2012, the group received its registration certificate in 2013 and opened an account with Sh14,000 in savings.
“It was the same month that we started giving out loans to our members.
“I remember the first loan we issued was Sh500 and the member repaid it with a 10 per cent interest, meaning they paid Sh550,” says Mr Randu.
“Currently, a member qualifies for a loan of Sh80,000. This to us is a dream come true.
“Several members have now purchased their own motorcycles after getting loans,” he says.
By the end of 2013, the group had given out loans to the tune of Sh190,000.
“This year alone we shall have issued a total of Sh580,000 to our members. We credit this to our saving discipline,” says Mr Randu.
In 2014, the group received a Sh400,000 Uwezo Fund loan, which enabled them to engage in many more activities. In 2015, they changed their entity from a self-help group to a community-based organisation (CBO). The UNDP through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) picked the CBO among many others to conduct sensitisation programmes for the youth in the region.
“We are advocating an end to early pregnancies among girls in Kilifi, and we are also heavily involved in carrying out community initiatives in the villages,” he says.
Dominic Ndundi, who has been a member of the group since 2012, says he does not regret joining the organisation.
“This group has been very helpful to me because a year after I joined, I managed to get a loan of Sh99,000, which is used to purchase my motorcycle.
“Then I was employed but now I am a proud owner of this motorcycle,” he says pointing at a motorbike parked at the Baptist Church compound.
The 35-year-old father of three lauded the group, calling it a game changer.
Gladys Kazungu, 34, was also all praises for the group.
Running a tailoring and dressmaking business, she has managed to get loans from the group, which have helped take her business to the next level.
“I am not a boda-boda operator but I joined the group last year. Since then they have really helped me in getting loans to carry out my business.
“Currently, I am repaying a Sh40,000 loan I took recently and once I clear it I will be eligible for another one,” she says.
For Julius Baya, he now owns a motorcycle — thanks to a loan he received from the group after becoming a member in 2012.