Over 5,000 members have benefited from the Northern Rangelands Trust Trading (NRTT) Sacco established by community conservancy members as a vehicle for building businesses and diversifying their livelihoods.
The Sacco started with only 200 members in 2016 and has grown to 5,563 members disbursing over Sh182 million to empower the communities to start business and diversify economic ventures.
The move has immensely improved the lives of community members within Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit, Laikipia, Baringo, West Pokot, Garissa, Tana River and Lamu counties.
The Sacco gets technical advice from the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) through its ‘Biashara Mashinani’ programme to uplift the living standards of community members through business activities.
A senior enterprise development officer with the organisation Elema Mohamud said that the main aim of the Northern Rangeland Sacco is to provide loans to people who find it hard to acquire one.
Mr Mohamud said that the Sacco is determined to empower pastoralists from the northern and coastal regions to start and run their business by helping them generate business ideas that are sustainable.
“Through the initiative the Sacco has achieved a lot including starting the Biashara Mashinani Initiative which has been fore heading in training and teaching members on how to start and operate businesses that will generate them profit,” he added.
Mr Mohamud said that NRT Sacco has given Sh1.8 million to the community as the bonuses for their savings in the last one year to support their businesses and encourage their hard work in the Sacco.
“Over 69 percent of the members are the women who are highly motivated and participate mainly in the Sacco leadership. The members come from over 39 conservancies in the region and the community taking the lead in the leadership and shareholding,” he added.
He said that the Sacco offers business and financial literacy training before receiving the loans to make sure that they are able to understand how to prudently spend the money since many members do not have formal education.
Northern Rangeland Sacco chairperson Pauline Lolngojine said that the Sacco has contributed to reduction of the common robbery and cattle rustling activities in the community adding the members have kept themselves busy by taking care of their families through savings and servicing their loans.
The chairperson said that the Sacco was not segregating the membership based on their age gaps, level of income, gender or the level of education thus giving every member an equal opportunity to join and benefit.
Ms Lolngojine added that the Sacco has got its agents in all areas who act as their main link to society members in need of the loans.
She said that issuance of loans by the Sacco has been even faster and favourable to residents as compared to bank processes which sometimes delay them.
A beneficiary of the loan Namunken Napolok said she had recently received dividends worth Sh 41,000 from her savings in the Sacco from which she has boosted her business.
“I am happy to be a successful entrepreneur in my community despite being born from a poor community that also undermines women and girls, placing them to undertake house chores,” Napolok said.
By Ken Mutuma and Kelvin Munene