They bring in 5.7 per cent of our GDP, hold assets adding up to Kshsh 556.71 billion as of 2019 and have a record number of members tallying at 3.59 million with 9,060 employees. 173 of them are SASRA-registered deposit-taking cooperative institutions. With an excess of 15,000 societies, unions and cooperative financial institutions not captured in these statistics. What are they?
“We need to look at SACCOs with the seriousness they deserve,” rightly says George Gakungu, Pre-Sales Engineer, Liquid Telecom Kenya. How can they digitise and elevate themselves to the next level? “It has been said the SACCO industry is very unique to Africa. It has grown based on trust. That has been the fabric. It has been allowed to grow without major regulatory oversight to the point where they started adopting and allowing for membership outside their core area of onboarding.”
SACCOs used to address whoever was in the same group or company, but they now traverse geographical boundaries. Take Stima and Safaricom SACCOs that are both open to members of the public. SACCOs also have tools that allow them to interact with members everywhere. It makes technology the cornerstone of a SACCOs strategy, not a mere function of IT. It creates digitised SACCOs which are referenced as Digi-SACCOs.
Digi-SACCOs have members who appreciate the value of technology, has executives and management who adopt digitisation as a key business driver, have customer-focused digital operations right down to creating a fully digitised SACCO system.
Why digitise at all?
This goes beyond spreadsheets or having different systems operating in silos. We are talking fully-meshes integrated services. “COVID-19 came and COVID-19 is now going away. But during the pandemic period, there are services that could have helped with specific services. Like, there were people stranded upcountry without access to funds. Imagine if they were part of a Digi-SACCO. Schools are now re-opening. Maybe SACCOs need a package to address that.” Add to that the goals of a Digi-SACCO, which employ technology in every way, any time, everywhere and across the board through multiple channels with cohesive services.
The Digi-SACCO transformation model means that you get to
- embrace your customers
- empower your employees
- customise your operation
- transform your products.
“Today, we are talking about 500 billion, but there is actually a lot of money we can tap into.” It is critical to look at customer access to the different services that are available. This increases customer satisfaction and loyalty, and this is what SACCOs want. Give them a reason to be more loyal. To the newbies, give them avenues through which they can access the services.
SACCOs need to have a 360-degree perspective of the customer. Track the relationship from the moment the customer inquires about their account to the point where they select a package that works for them. This can range from multiple touchpoints to chatbots.
Today’s customer will need a loan within 24 hours and that is their only window. It could mean the difference between that mother being able to access medical services or not. This is how Digi-SACCOs come in by delivering services across the country when needed.
How do you start?
“Digi-SACCOs have borrowed business transformation models from organisations that have moved from ad hoc ICT digital platforms to opportunistic, where we have different-siloed platforms all the way to the optimised platform.” Taking care of underlying ICT requirements is how Digi-SACCOs can be considered digital disruptors. To be able to offer services at the click of a button.
The size of the organisation hardly matters by this point. It is, instead, the customer you are dealing with and how they benefit. This is where Digi-SACCOs are heading to disrupt the digital economy. “SACCOs are there. SACCOs have been there. SACCOs are taking their rightful place in the digital economy when they offer those services that they need to,” declares George.
How does Liquid Telecom come in?
George explains their customer-centric approach. “For those who have walked with us and SACCOs we have partnered with, Liquid Telecom is providing the most basic underlying infrastructure there is – connectivity. “We have already set up 70,000 kilometres of fibre across 13+ countries.”
As a service provider and partner, Liquid Telecom is looking at a long-term strategy by offering products that can carry on for years to come. These include:
- internet and network infrastructure
- communication and collaboration
- compute and storage infrastructure
- security infrastructure
- outsourced hosting.
These all fall under managed services as this presentation breaks down Liquid’s services.
For a more in-depth perspective on this topic, click here and listen to our webinar, Digitising the SACCO Industry: A managed services conversation.
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