WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHAMAS IN KENYA
In Kenya there are estimated to be 300,000 chamas which control up to a total of 300 billion (US$3.4) billion in asset. Before we continue lets first know what a chama is;
A Chama is an informal cooperative society that is normally used to pool and invest savings.
They are also referred to as micro savings groups. These chamas rose from the early harambee times in the late 80s and 90s. Originally chamas tended to be for women only. But after their growth and their huge success, men also opted to join them.
Today were going to answer some vital questions about chamas which we have carefully selected for your good as it is for us.
TYPES OF CHAMAS IN KENYA.
There are two types of chamas; group directed chamas and self-directedchamas.
GROUP DIRECTED CHAMAS
In this type of chamas, members contribute in to a common pool and jointly invest the funds in a common investment or portfolio of investments. The returns from these investments are subsequently shared among the group members according to a pre-determined or dividend policy.
These are chamas that meet and learn about investing, but members invest independently.
There are no financial contributions towards investing and the primary objective of this type of chama is to get together and share ideas and experiences about investing, so as to gain tips on how one can invest his own funds. These are not very common; an example is where a group of farmers attend a field day to learn together.
WHY CHAMAS IN KENYA FAIL.
1. GAME WITH NO RULES.
Chamas that lacks rules is like a sailor without a compass. They ought to be and behave similar to disciplined forces. Most chamas have failed because they lack rules and regulations to play by. Simple rules like attendance, contributions and deadlines are very vital not just for chamas but any business to succeed. Chamas need a clear and strict set of rules that will guide its members. Also penalties for breaking of the rules should be clearly stated and adhere to fully.
2. MISTRUST among members
Trust and honest are the greatest of assets that every business thrives on. Most chamas fail because they lack trust first for the leaders and then among the members themselves. Every chama should ensure there is trust within them and if there isn’t by all means eliminated the threats of mistrust.
3. LEADERSHIP PROBLEMS.
Selection of leaders for chama is key to its success. Sadly, most chamas use wrong criteria in choosing leader hence wrong leaders with a result of wrong leadership. When choosing a leader, chamas should carefully vet character and motive of those yearning for its leadership. A sound mind leadership can be everything a chama needs.
4. LACK OF CLEAR INVESTMENT OBJECTIVES.
Most people start a chama with no clear pathway and goal for their chama. Some start and claim to learn as they do. On the way because of lack of clear goal there comes clashing of opinions and ideas and this tears the chama apart. First a chama should have a clear common goal that everyone on board has consented with.
5. RUSHING INTO INVESTMENTS.
Research and due diligence are very important before venturing into anything. Before getting or buying any investment ideas and going for it, clear and thorough research should be done and if possible every member of the chama should contribute their opinions.
INVESTMENT IDEAS OR OPTIONS FOR CHAMAS.
1. GOVERNMENT DEBT.
Loaning the government currently is the best and safest investment options available in the market.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to investing, buying government debt through options like treasury bills, tends to be as close as you can get to a low risk use of your cash.
Initially it had a minimum of 100,000 but today there is a minimum of 3000 shillings only. You can do the investment through the M-Akiba which raises funds for infrastructure development. To invest in a T-bill, you can either open a central depository system account with the CBK or approach your bank of service.
Typically, you’ll get interest payments every six months, with the CBK auctioning the bonds on a monthly basis. The banks website provides details on what’s available.
2. SACCOSA well run a properly managed SACCO can get your money growing, and also being part of its membership. Properly vet the sacco before getting into business with them and get their legal permits and study the recent past and past balance sheets for clarity, confidence and trust. Most saccos can get you up to 3 times your savings within a span of 6 months. Additionally, you get to make money off those taking loans through the annual dividends shared out among the members.
3. UNIT TRUSTS
Unit trust work best for those looking to grow their money steadily for long-term project.
They bring together money from a pool of investors, and puts it in shares, government paper or money markets and then split the proceeds among the members of the pool, according to their share of the investments.
You can invest in a unit trust through any one of the regulated investment banks in the country, pick the option that’s most suitable for you.
The safest option tends to be a money market unit trust, where returns vary on a daily basis, currently ranging between 6 and 10 per cent.
The Nairobi security exchange NSE gives you the chance to buy into business you believe in and that’s showing an admirable growth graph. The beauty of it is that first, you can buy a minimum of 1000 shares. Second, is that you get to own a business that is most admirable to you.
Before you into any business, seek professional advice and read widely on its financial performance. There are indicators you can look at that will help you make a wise decision while you can’t predict the future of a share price.
CHAMA APPS IN KENYA.
There exists a couple of chama software that aim to simplify and improve their efficiency. Lets take a look at them.
This one provides a web based application which is also available as an app for both android and IOS. They run a subscription model to use the application however they do habve a free account which is limited to only 10 members and fewer features. The basic amount is 599 montly while the pro account starts at 999 monthly.
Is an online software provided by equity bank. Their solution looks like a replica of chamasoft with the exception that theirs is only available online. Their pricing is also different and offers no free accounts. They currently have only one plan that is limited to 20 members that is split into 20 members that is split into 3 subscription drations; monthly at ksh250, quarterly at ksh750 and annually at 3000.
Similar to eazzchama, chamanett is also available as a web solution where you login into an online dashboard to manage your chama. The software is available in 3 pricing plans which are by far the priciest in this list. They include a quarterly subscription for ksh1500 and an annual subscription for 5000 both of which are limited to 20 members. The last plan they provide access to the full software for a onetime payment, essentially geared to those that wish to buy the software rather than use a subscription model.
While there is no free account, potential customers can test the application in a 15 day trial before opting for any of the plans.
Is available both as web based application and app for android. Unlike all the other solutions provided here, tekeleza provides a demo where users can test run the application and even create a test group. As for their pricing plan, they use a monthly plan that is charged per member in two categories. For groups that provide access to loan facilities and investment the plan is charged at ksh 50 monthly per member. For groups that didn’t incorporate any of these features, the plan is charged at 20 per month each member.
Digichama uses a different model as it provides their application in a modular way. This means their software can be customized to only provide the modules that a chama needs.
The best part about it is that, it is free to use though it does provide two one-off payment plans for extra features and support.
These features include custom modules, data entry support and a custom sub-domain which allows a chama to access the application on their ow URL.
The basic plan of the two starts at 3000 while the full featured one starts at 6000.