Tea farmers in Meru, Kenya are grateful to the YETU for providing an instant market for the tons of tea that they grow. Yetu Sacco was formed by tea farmers who came together in 1990 in an effort to try and help themselves. It was officially registered with the ministry of co-operative on 23/09/1991.
The fast-growing cooperative that started with just 200 members today has over 20,000 members with scores of branches spread across Kenya. Yetu Sacco agents are outlet shops offering banking services to their members. The Sacco CEO Mwiti Rukaria said the members are able to open up new accounts, make cash withdrawals, pay school fees, check bank balances as well as cash deposits.
Located at Nkubu town, a town located in Eastern Province of Kenya, Yetu Sacco is also the first Sacco to start a biometric ATM for their members.
A Ugandan SACCO, the Munaku Kaama Savings and Credit Cooperative Society that was in Kenya for a study tour were amazed that YETU also owns an eight-storey complex, (the MAJANI SACCO PLAZA) at Nkubu town. The plaza is fully funded by members who have contributed investment shares towards the building project.
Munaku Kaama Sacco that also visited the Imenti Tea Factory that belongs to the YETU Sacco tea farmers learned that the tea factory buys tea from the 5827 registered farmers.
Mr. Winston Ngiru, the Production Manager at the Imenti Tea Factory, said the 5827 farmers who supply the factory with fresh tea are supported with skills on crop husbandry on how to manage theirs over 3,000 acres of tea land.
The chairman Board YETU SACCO, Mr. Christopher Ndegwa said the purpose of starting the SACCO was to help the farmers raise school fees for their children.
“The proper organisation of the 200 farmers then led to the start of the YETU SACCO in 1991, now one of the top 10 best performing Cooperatives in Kenya.
The CEO, Mr. John Mwiti Rukaria said their dream is to be the leading cooperative financial institution by the year 2030. “Our difference is that every member has ownership rights and a duty in the running of the society, just like our brand name, ‘YETU,” he said.
Rukaria noted that the idea to start YETU was born in the minds of the few tea farmers from South Imenti driven by a common goal of accumulating their resources in a single pool in a view of accessing credit facilities at reasonable rates.
“The SACCO was registered in 1991 under the brand name of South Imenti Tea Growers Sacco Limited and we were only able to give out the first loan in 1994 after some years of savings from our members,” he said.
He said to in order to accommodate other members and bring them on board, they decided to welcome the entire public on board and thus the name was branded to YETU SACCO Limited.
“The SACCO has adapted new systems, developed a wide range of products and services, reviewed its policies to make sure that we remain one but for all,” he said.
Mr. Patrick Mwenda, the ICT Manager, said: “We have been having issues of engaging and recruiting the youth. Most youths of today are lured by technology, and we thus thought of a mechanism to advance our technology to lure them and this seems working out.”
The 12 Munaku Kaama members won the trip after emerging winners of the inaugural Uhuru Institute Plant A Coop Tree competition.
The team also visited the ¼ acre Mr. Philip Kiruki’s Pejima dairy farm in Meru.
The amazing factor is that with a small land Kiruki is able to hold a total of 30 high-quality Friesian cows that give him a minimum of 260 liters of milk each, each day.
“After retiring, I secured a loan of Ksh2 million that enabled me purchased the cows, machinery, and set up structures. Today I employ three permanent staff and one casual with my son helping me out as the manager,” he told the team at his home.
The Uhuru Institute Chief Executive, Mr. Leonard Okello said: “The most important factor that I have learned today, that I also expect others have learned the fact that you don’t need much land to do miracles. Some people have huge chunks of land yet producing so little.”