What can you do with Sh100 in a day? To many, very little, but to members of Kitemoto Housing Co-operative Society, a Sacco formed by 100 boda boda (motorcycle) operators in Kitengela town, the amount can buy a house.
It all started in November 2009 after the boda boda operators got tired of frequent arrests by traffic police and the squalid conditions of the houses they were living in.
“The police were arresting our members even for little traffic offences and this angered us since we were losing motor bikes in the process due to confiscation. We then saw it wise to start a saving plan to help us paying for the fines as well as to improve our living conditions,” says Aloise Mwai, the group’s chairman.
To achieve this, the group came up with three goals: Planting trees in Kitengela town to help reduce dust; building themselves houses; and buying motorcycles for each member, rather than riding hired ones.
They have succeeded in buying themselves motorcycles; tree planting is on-going (although they say they are facing several challenges, including lack of seeds, high maintenance costs that include frequent watering and cultivation). Currently, they are in the process of completing houses for members.
Before starting the real estate project, they approached the Isinya District Co-operative Officer, Frank Maina, who advised them to form a group through which they could get loans. That is when they registered Kitengela Motorcycle Owners (Kitemoto) with 200 members.
However, about 100 members quit, saying the group would be like another pyramid scheme.
“Since we had set goals and we were focused on attaining them, we decided to move on,” says group secretary Gathaga Maina.
The group went for training on financial management, bookkeeping and savings.
They then approached the National Co-operative Housing Union (Nachu) nine months after inception. Nachu told them they could save and own houses and pay back at a low interest rate.
“What inspired us more to own houses was the fact that if we channelled the money we were spending on rent every month into repaying the Nachu loan for seven years, we could each own a Sh430,000 house,” says Gathaga.
They each started saving Sh100 per day in 2010. When each member’s savings hit Sh60,000, they bought a 50-acre land in Millennium area in Kisaju, Kajiado County, at Sh15 million.
“It was not an easy task saving Sh100 per day…it was a sacrifice that forced most of us to give up on leisure activities and focus on saving,” says John Ndegwa, a member.
Today, the 100 members are beaming with joy, since they are the proud owners of the Ngasemo estate.
Located 800m from Namanga-Kajiado Road and 13km from Kitengela town on an earth road, the estate comprises 100 bedsitters (starter units) for the members and 24 three-bedroom bungalows, ready for occupation. Each bungalow is going for Sh4.7 million to the public.
The starter units come with extra space for expansion. Since only 50 members have been able to pay the required Sh7,600 per month, the rest of the 50 units are rented to mama mbogas, who pay the Sh7,600 per month.
The bungalows come with tiled floors, two bedrooms and one master ensuite, with modern kitchen consisting of sink, tap, work tops, upper and lower kitchen cabinets and dining area-cum living room.
The estate has borehole water. Landscaping is to be done soon; power connection is being worked on. Also in place is chain link fence. A perimeter wall has also been planned. A septic tank has been installed for sewage disposal.
The members are toying with the idea of renting houses belonging to those who will not be willing to stay in the estate to students from the soon-to-be-constructed Tangaza College and existing institutions like KAG University and Kampala International University.
The members are, however, calling upon the Government to help them through youth fund to clear the loans so that they can start planning for phase two of the estate. The membership has since increased to 400.
“If we get funding from the government, we will be able to pay the loan quickly within less than seven years since loan is on reducing balance,” says Aloise.
Aloise is also requesting the Kajiado County government to build roads leading to the estates, including Ngasemo, which gets muddy when it rains.
The group also offers products for members like emergency loans.
According to Timothy Lekake, Eastern Regional Housing Officer with Nachu, the union works closely with various housing co-operatives to ensure decent living for low-income Kenyans.
Any interested group has to pay an affiliation fee of Sh12,500 — Sh2,500 caters for registration while Sh10,000 is for shareholding (a share is Sh10). “We had to conduct a needs assessment first for the members to ascertain the financial and income status and found that they were okay and went ahead to build for them houses,” says Lekake . He added: “The main objective of this project is to eliminate the mushrooming of slums and provide decent houses for the low-income class and those living in
informal settlements.” Lekake said Nachu has already done such projects in Nairobi’s Kawangware slums, Nakuru, Kondele in Kisumu, Mlolongo and now Kitengela.
Frank Maina, the Isinya Sub County Co-operative Officer who registers co-operatives within the sub-county, applauded the boda boda operators.
“I am proud of this project because many people, including myself, used to view boda boda operators as people with no vision. They have come up with a project worth emulating,” he told Home and Away at the project’s site.
He lauded the members for their discipline to save and manage their time well.
Aloise said Kitemoto members are also looking for a biogas investor to install the bio digester, which they hope to produce alternative energy to serve the estate.
Today, the Kitemoto chairman is a busy person, with different groups across the country inviting him for lectures.
“We are willing to share with more groups out there on how we got to where we are today,” he says.
To Buy Visit: Ngasemo Project for details