Starting in 1980 and continuing consistently since 1997, World Council has been working with the Kenyan savings and credit cooperative (SACCO) movement in the areas of agricultural development, technology solutions and financial inclusion. IRnet Coop Kenya, WOCCU’s for-profit pilot that was based in Nairobi, was created to help SACCOs develop and implement new technologies, products and services to reach underserved populations. It is now fully owned by the Kenyan Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO), a WOCCU credit union member since 2002.
Our trade association members include associations and credit unions/SACCOs throughout East Africa, namely Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. We’ve also conducted development projects throughout the region since the early 1980s. Currently, we are working in Kenya on the USAID Collaborative Development Program to train credit unions on agricultural finance through our agricultural finance toolkit and piloted a fully digital e-SACCO to attract youth members.
Women and Youth. In all of our activities, we take special care to reach women and youth through targeted training and product/service development. In Kenya, we piloted an e-SACCO (named e-Kenya) that meets young adult demands by operating over a mobile platform that offers 24/7 accessibility. It worked by using a web-based platform and an interconnected mobile service provider that allows service to reach even the most remote areas within the country by using existing networks. Also through this project, we launched the Youth Agricultural Project to encourage and educate youth to view agriculture as a means of income and give them access to finance through farmer field schools.
Highlights of current and recent projects are summarized below:
- Improving Small Rural Producers' Income through Integrated Access to Financial Services and Agricultural Markets: The goal of our Cooperative Development Program (CDP, a USAID-funded project running from 2010 to 2017), is to create a set of agricultural finance tools that will guide credit unions worldwide serve rural populations. The program has developed, tested and documented integrated methodologies that incorporate improved agricultural and financial products, services and IT-based delivery mechanisms.
- Kenya SACCO Capacity Building Program (SACCO Cap), FSD Trust Kenya: From 2006-2010, we trained and certified local consultants and organizations on helping SACCOs meet proposed regulatory standards and increase competition. Topics include implementing new charts of accounts, installing updated information systems, standardizing policies and procedures, ensuring adequate provisioning, and addressing governance issues. We also gave SACCOs access to WOCCU tools, including business planning, credit administration, credit scoring, credit union diagnostics, financial monitoring, governance monitoring and product costing.
- Mitigating the Impact of HIV/AIDS on Economic Growth through Credit Union Modernization: With funding from USDA (2006-2010), we implemented this integrated program to address the needs of Kenyan farmers, youth, and HIV/AIDS affected households and OVC. We established Junior Farm Field and Life Schools to teach students effective farming practices, and provided training and technical assistance.
- Providing Access to the Poor Using Technology: With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we established an application service provider (ASP) solution for small, medium and large size SACCOs in Kenya. The ASP, or data center, provides back-office software solutions to SACCOs with inadequate or no information technology system access to a web-based core banking system that links SACCO members’ ASP accounts to M-PESA.
- SACCO Growth Program: Through funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WOCCU tested pro-poor outreach strategies, methodologies and financial products to dramatically increase SACCO membership, especially among low income populations. Overall membership increased by 83% from 52,563 to 96,255 while the proportion of members living off $1 per day or less grew from 38.9% to 59.2%. The program ran from November 2006 to October 2009.