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Monday, 13 June 2011

The Anchor May- June 2011- Wamunyu's way of walking from poverty

Wamunyu residents choose
road to economic empowerment

250 residents of Mwala district affiliated to 21 self help groups have teamed up to fight poverty.  They have come together under a community based organization called Wamunyu OnTime [WOTE].

The CBO runs a micro finance project to support the investment interests of members.

 Individual members are able to exploit the credit facility to meet pressing family obligations.

Such needs include school fees, medical care and other basic requirements.

 The loan scheme is funded through the ‘’table banking’ concept.

 "This involves administration of three credit facilities, namely normal or development, upesi and urgent, according to the CBO chairman Mr. Benjamin Katuma.

 Other proceeds are generated through selling of shares to the affiliate groups and individual members.

 Price per share is Sh 200 currently, which guarantees the members annual dividends.

 The CBO also pursues joint in-vestments in trust funds, stock market and other ventures as agreed by the members.

 Interest rates and commissions charged on the loans attract earnings to the kitty as well.

 A registration fee of Sh 3,500 is charged to self help groups intending to become the CBO affiliates which form another source of income.

 Registration of the current 21 groups earned the organization Sh 73,500 when the outfit was formed.

 Each group must acquire passbooks sold at Sh 100. ‘’We resolved to pool resources to advance our economic wellbeing,’’ the chairman remarked on Thursday last week.

 He said WOTE was formed to serve as the umbrella for the affiliate self help groups.

 The CBO oversees disbursement of the soft loans to the members through the Community Micro Credit Scheme [COMICRES].

 The credit is offered at affordable interest rates agreed unanimously by the members.

 Normal or development loan as the name suggests is strictly for in-vestment purpose and is borrowed at an interest of 5 percent monthly.

Members must part with Sh 100 for application. The credit ceiling is four times each member’s shares. 2 per-cent of the amount caters for insurance cover.

 Upesi loan is disbursed instantly as the name suggest. Interest is charged at 10 per-cent monthly.

 Calculation is pegged on members’ shares. Urgent loan attracts an interest of 10 per-cent weekly. Maximum ceiling is Sh 1,000. Personal needs dictate what kind of credit facilities members go for.

  ‘’They are free to apply for money for school fees, medicare and purchase of prop-erty or other investments of their choice so long as they payback,’’ explained Mr. Katuma.

 ‘’The credit facilities provide members with an opportunity of securing capital to venture into viable income generating activities,’’ the chairman added.

 ‘’Some members have been advanced money to pursue livestock and poultry rearing,’’ he went on.

 In the event of drought, the CBO ad-vises the livestock keepers to sell them out to avert losses, he said.

 Applicants for development loans, according to the chairman are discouraged from pumping the money into non-viable activities with no meaningful income.

‘’We guide them to ensure the funds are in-vested prudently to ensure the loans are repaid smoothly,’’ added Mr. Katuma.

 He said the CBO supports training to members on financial management to en-sure proper utilization of the re-sources.

 ‘’We also promote primary health care and environmental conservation amongst our ranks,’’ he added.

 In addition, the CBO fosters tree planting amongst its membership to boost the environment.  

Mr. Katuma revealed that the organization was aspiring to expand its capital base by investing in additional ventures.

 ‘’We intend to buy a plot within Waumunyu market and funeral hearse to boost our in-come and render more benefits to our members,’’ he said petitioning for boost from donors and well wishers.

 The CBO operates at Waumunyu Baptist church currently but efforts by the management were underway to build an ad-ministration office on the piece of land to be purchased soon.

 The initiative was introduced to the groups by Pastor Sammy Mbiti who heads the Baptist church. ‘’I pioneered the project. I leant of the concept when serving as a board member of the Australian world aid and sold it to local residents,’’ the cleric who is the CBO’s patron noted. Currently, Mr. Mbiti is the national treasurer of the Baptist convention of Kenya .

 Mr. Katuma thanked the cleric for his role in bringing the 21 groups together under WOTE, offering office accommodation to the CBO at the church and wise counsel which he said had propelled the outfit.

He extended similar gratitude to Share an Opportunity [SAO], a non govern-mental for spear-heading the groups unity and COMICRES policy. The project had received several grants from the NGO which he said had also supported training to members on leadership skills, primary healthcare, COMICRES policy and business management practices.

 He also cited the special assistance ex-tended by SAO to the physically and mentally challenged members of the organization.

 He also commended the Gender, Children and Social Development department for educating the groups on project sustainability and bookkeeping.

 Wamunyu on time, according to Pastor Mbiti was coined out of the members de-sire to en-sure what-ever they set out to do was achieved on time.

Operations of the CBO are run by 5 office bearers namely the chairman Mr.Katuma, vice chairman Mrs. Fransisca Mutheke, Secretary Mr. Pius Tama, Assistant Secretary Mr. Paul Kyove and the trea-surer Mrs. Rose Sammy.

Ms Janet Kivolonzi and Leah Mutunga who are permanently employed are in charge of records keeping, cash balancing and community coordination respectively.

 ‘’Current savings standing at over Sh 1 million while more than Sh 616,000 has been dis-bursed to members as loans,’’ noted Ms Kivolonzi.

District Gender and Social Development Officer Mr. Paul Randiak, who was among the invited guests, confirmed registration of WOTE by the government and de-scribed its operations as vibrant and focused.

 He said his office will continue to support the CBO through training members on leadership, gender, proposal writing, monitoring and evaluation, good governance for accountability and transparency.

 He said his office will guide the groups on proposal writing aimed at building partnership or sponsorship by donors.

 Mr. Randiak hailed the CBO’s mission, saying it was worth being emulated else-where.

 SAO regional manager Mr. Raphael Mokoi said the lending scheme was viable since it had structures that guar-an-teed its sustainability.

 ’The scheme comes in handy considering this region is prone to drought and famine which frustrates commercial farming,’’ the official noted during the AGM meeting.

 He said the concept should be sold to other marginalized groups.

 Failure to service loans is not entertained.

 ‘’Loan applicants who default on re-payment schedule attract the wrath of the CBO management, guarantors and individual fraternity.

 Members are empowered by the constitution to storm defaulters’ homesteads to demand the cash or confiscate valuable property for auction.

 Defaulting has a warranty notice of seven days as per the CBO regulations.

 Individual members or groups which fall into accumulated debt arrears are black-listed and de-nied further credit.

 Loan applicants who fail to remit some-thing after elapse of the seven days warranty offer must con-tent with an extra deduction of charged as interest.

If a defaulter proves that he/she is to-tally unable to repay the loan, the extra levy is suspended and the confiscated items ranging from live-stock and other valuable house-hold utensils are auctioned without any further reference to the owner.

The code of conduct is enforced through the raft of by-laws/rules whose violation attracts penalties or expulsion from the CBO.

 ‘’Indiscipline and failure to service loans by the members is not entertained,’’ noted Mr. Katuma adding the project would have had many challenges if it were not for the strict adherence to the rules.

 He summed up the CBOs vision and mission as poverty eradication and uniting self help groups through the COMICRES initiative respectively.

 He said training the membership on financial matters, primary health care and environmental conservation was part of the organization’s mission as well.

 Educating our children, adding values to our self help groups, sourcing for training opportunities for our members and the community on key life issues formed the core values,’’ he conclude.

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