The ministry of health reported the first case of COVID 19 in Kenya in March 2020. Since then, operations in all sectors of the economy have been affected, some more adversely than others. The financial sector is one of those affected. Employers are have laid off their staff. Other employees have been sent on unpaid leaves as others take up pay cuts. Needless to say, the SACCOs have played a key role in keeping these people afloat in the midst of a pandemic.
SACCOs offer low interest rates for loans and are closer to their members than other financial institutions. As they continue to serve Kenyans, the impact of COVID 19 on their operations cannot be ignored.
Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
SASRA issued a directive discouraging physical AGMs for SACCOs. However, some SACCOs have taken up to hold the meetings virtually. This way members do not have to travel and can follow the proceedings online.
Embrace of Telecommuting
SACCOs are encouraged to minimize physical meetings. As a result, most board meetings are being virtually, especially through zoom among other platforms. Additionally, Where possible, SACCOs are allowing some of their employees to work from home.
Use of mobile/online services
Use mobile money instead of cash to make your payments. Some SACCOs had already introduced apps through which members can access their accounts and make transactions. Members who do not use smartphones can also use dedicated USSD codes to access their accounts too. With these, they do not need to make a trip to the respective branches unless in critical cases.
To a great extent, this has helped decongest banking halls and curb the spread of the virus.
Constant communication to members
The last few months have seen SACCOs send out more informational messages to their members. This has been through text messages, emails, and even radio adverts. On top of the usual transactional and notice messages sent out, messages on health and hygiene are also being sent by SACCOs to members.
Individuals and enterprises are facing difficulty in servicing their loans due to the disruptions of COVID 19. As a result, SACCOs are restructuring these loans, giving them more time to pay the loans.
Some SACCOs have restructured their member’s loans on request. This gives the members more time to pay. Others are offering loan top-ups.
In conclusion, SACCOs are finding ways to remain afloat during the current pandemic. Some of these such as the use of online services will serve them during and post the pandemic. It is high time that institutions that are yet to embrace technology do so. Clinging to the traditional modes of operations might work to their disadvantage in a great way.