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JULY 2015


STORIES OF IMPACT Loans that are transforming farming TOGETHER WE PROSPER


UTS Today

Together we prosper


The sky is the limit for Universal Traders Sacco BY KITHEKA S. KIOKO –CHAIRMAN


niversal Traders SACCO (UTS) star is on the arise. The SACCO which started in 1991 as a small outfit has grown to a giant Institution with Branches traversing the entire Ukambani Counties viz Kitui, Machakos & Makueni and our neighbouring County of Embu. With membership increasing by leaps and bounds every day, thanks to the sound management policies, well focused Board of Management and a cheap and fast loan facility, the sky is the limit for the growth of UTS.

Many of our famers and businessmen have sound and focused entrepreneurial minds but their enterprises have been bogged down by lack of cheap and efficient financial services. Whereas banks have opened many branches in the region, their interest rates and requirements are too high and beyond the reach of the ordinary farmer and businessman. That is why Universal Traders Sacco Society has come to fill the gap and assist the unbankable population. While Banks are charging interests as high as 23% per annum, our SACCO has many low interest rate loan products. In deed

MISSION STATEMENT: ―To empower members economically by efficiently providing affordable financial services, meeting their obligations‖

rates go as low as 9% per annum UTS is ready to work with development partners to increase credit to our famers at very low interest rates. Partners such as Rabo Bank of the Netherlands and the Microenterprise Support Programme Trust, (MESPT) among others, continue to give support to our farmers and the Sacco. As we continue to lead the way in providing cheap financial services, we will soon be looking forward to opening branches in other areas such as Mwingi and Mlolongo.

VISION STATEMENT: ― To be leading sacco providing quality financial services in Kenya‖

UTS Today

Together we prosper



Focus: Our Most Important Asset


ocus is the most important aspect of the Universal Traders Sacco. Since its formation in 1991, the Sacco has been focused on expanding its membership and empowering them financially. And over the years, we have seen our membership grow from a handful of the original founders crammed in a small room to more than 40,000 members spread in all Ukamba counties and in Embu County. What is special about Universal Traders Sacco (UTS) is that it isn’t employeebased, using a check-off system. Our members are business men and women coming from all sectors of the economy. They are united by only one thing—a desire to improve their condi-

achievements, including stability and a rising capital base. But best of all, we are happy that UTS is making real change in the lives of its members, their families and their home areas.

tions of living. And they know that goal can easily and best be achieved through pooling together their financial resources and thus created a fund for loaning themselves money at affordable rates. With such facilities, they can move forward to achieve their goals. Today UTS boasts of many

The Editor appreciates the invaluable contribution to this publication made by SERAH NZAU of Microenterprise Support Programme Trust (MESPT) Wote, NOAH MUOKA, Universal Traders Sacco Society Limited (UTS) Head Office, Machakos, SYLVESTER KOMU of (UTS) Kathiani branch, MARY SYOMBUA of UTS, Wote branch and LEONARD WAMBUA of MESPT, Wote.

In this issue of the UTS, we present to you stories that demonstrate what the UTS is doing for its members in the farming sector. They are stories of real members that we hope will gladden you, motivate you and make you even more committed to the vision of your sacco because you have not only made this happen, you too stand to benefit and to create positive change in your life. UTS will continue to lead the way so that we, together shall continue to proper.

- DOMINIC MUTUNGA Chief Executive Officer

UTS Today is published by Investment News Limited, P. O. Box 20257 –00100 GPO, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: 0773 –991820 on behalf of Universal Traders Sacco Limited P.O. Box 2119 – 90100, Machakos, Kenya. Tel: 044-20571 COORDINATOR: Emma Muli EDITORIAL AND DESIGN: Investment News


UTS Today

Together we prosper

The Growth Story of

Universal Traders Sacco


niversal Traders Sacco was started as a merry-go round by a group of businessmen in Machakos. Their desire was to pool together resources so that they could create a fund from which they could lend each other money to improve their businesses.

The chairman of the group kept all the group’s collections in his office where the meetings and transactions were carried on. In 1991, the group was registered as a sacco to offer financial services to the business community, thus becoming one of the earliest saccos

targeting non-salaried members. As the founding members later said, it was not easy because most saccos at that time were on the check-off system. Members of the Universal Traders Sacco (UTS), then known as the Masaku Traders Sacco, were united

MESPT: One of the Most Active UTS Partners Micro-Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MSPT) is one of the key partners of UTS. Through the UTS, MESPT offers soft loans to assist small and medium size enterprises within the areas where UTS operates. MESPT’s mission is to ―support the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises by providing integrated business solutions for sustainable development.‖ Among those that have benefitted are farmers in Lower Eastern Kenya whose perennial twin problems are lack of capital to buy farm inputs and lack of water in the drier areas. MESPT also helps the farmers solve marketing problems and provides

MESPT helps in training farmers on grading here seen at an SMEs pack house

them with skills on profitable farming techniques in the following value chains: mango, passion, indigenous chicken and export vegetables. ―Farmer reports will indicate the impact of our work in partnership with the UTS,‖ says Serah Nzau, the MESPT Business Development Officer in charge of Machakos and Makueni counties. Cont’d Page 15

UTS Today

Together we prosper only by their desire to improve their businesses with the help of easily accessible, low interest rate finances.

seven towns –Machakos, Wote, Kitui, Tala, Nzaikoni, Kathiani and Embu.

Today, the UTS has grown to a giant financial institution with membership of over 40,000 strong. Its loan portfolio has increased to over Shs 403,855,548 as at December 2014

It offers sophisticated banking services such as ATM, mobile banking and money transfer. And recently, it has introduced its own cheque book to enable its members and clients make smooth business transactions.

The sacco’s share deposits stood at Shs 181,039,647 with a turn over of Shs 92,201,949.

Over the years, the UTS has increased its loan products to cater for the diverse needs of its members.

UTS, which is headquartered in Machakos town, now has spread its branch network to

In addition to the ordinary sacco loans - normal loan and emergency loans—UTS


has Biashara, Growth oriented, Asset Finance, Mwangaza and Tuinuke loans all aimed at improving businesses. Loans which are designed to specifically assist farmers include Rabo, Horticulture, Mkulima Bora, NRM and Chai Loans among others. But as the sacco grows and expands, we stay true to the dream and vision of our founders - to support the growth of businesses and thus to positively impact the lives of our members and the communities in which we operate.

Hongera UTS for Excellent Service to Farmers! Machakos Cooperative Union - the umbrella organization for coffee farmers in Machakos and Makueni counties - takes great pleasure in being associated with Universal Traders Sacco in serving farmers in South Eastern Kenya. Coffee is a seasonal crop, and therefore we appreciate the important role you are playing in providing bridging loans. With the help of the Union, the Lower Eastern Coffee Mill, which is owned by members of the Union, individuals and corporates, has installed a coffee milling plant in Machakos town in order to help coffee farmers add more value to their coffee. One of the important things the mill has done is to reduce the distance farmers’ travel to have their coffee milled. Shorter distance reduces

costs and wastage that occurs in travel. Secondly, farmers are milling their coffee at rates lower than those charged by any other miller in Kenya while at the same time eliminating wastage and thefts that occur in milling. In their own milling plant, farmers are sure to get the same amount of coffee as they brought for milling. Finally, we would like to mention that plans are already at an advanced stage for roasting, packaging and selling our own branded coffee, both locally and globally. As the CEO Mr. Martin Malila says, ―The cooperative mood in this region is full of excitement following the installation of the mill.‖


UTS Today

Together we prosper

Stories of Impact How UTS loans are transforming farming in Ukambani and Embu


arming is the most important occupation both for substance and earning income in Ukambani and Embu. But these areas are classified as semi-arid because they receive little and erratic rains. Efforts to assist farmers in the area started as early as 1952 when Katumani Agri-

cultural Research Station was set up by the colonial government to develop maize varieties that could thrive in the region. However the efforts have not been successful because although the land is fertile and good for farming, water and capital for farm inputs have been major stumbling blocks. That is why the Universal Traders Sacco

has targeted farmers as a major part of its loaning system. Together with its partners such as Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust, MESPT, the sacco has rolled out easy to access, and affordable loans to assist the farmers to solve these perennial twin problems of finance and water. The results are a clear confirma-

UTS Today

Together we prosper

tion of the common assertion: If only water were available, Ukambani could feed Kenya and create a surplus for export. Vast areas have been turned into lush green farms with varieties of crops that include French beans, fruits, vegetables and grains. And this has led to an influx of educated people returning home from cities to take up farming. These educated farmers are conver-


FACING PAGE: Good farming methods and skills are enabling farmers to increase mango production and ABOVE: French beans in one of the many large farms in Makueni where UTS and its partners are transforming farming.

sant with modern technology, farming techniques and how to use credit. The result of all these is that farmers are earning money in millions of shillings in a year with the least that a serious farmer can expect going to more than Shs 800,000. Success has created enthusiasm among farmers and encouraged others, includ-

ing the youth, to take up farming. And UTS, together with its partners, is in the lead, providing finance, advising on proper ways of farming as well as helping farmers find markets for their produce. The following narratives show the exact impact UTS and its partners are making.


UTS Today

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Proud and Happy Fruit Farmer in Nzaui „I am 200 per cent ahead since I got empowered‟ Sixty year old Peter Mwaka Kamu will proudly tell you that his expansive fruit farm stretches over 2 kilometers. And with equal excitement, he shows us the pixie, tangerines, oranges and minora that he plants—heavy and overladen with succulent fruits. Then he tells us about the twin problems that had bedeviled his farming—water and markets. When he joined UTS several years ago, he hoped to get solutions to these problems. “I joined UTS because I needed money for water and to find markets. Middlemen exploited us! “UTS told me that they could give me a loan based on my production with a grace period of six months. That was something I had never heard of from a bank.”

Showing the depth of Mwaka’s fruit farm

The first loan for Mwaka who says he left teaching to pursue his passion for farming, was a Shs 1 million NRM loan— a partnership between UTS and Microenterprise Support Program Trust (MESPT) “I sank a borehole and did piping for irrigation. Now I have two sources of water—a borehole and a dam. That means I have water and can plant throughout the year.” The result is that Mwaka‟s production and income have increased in geometrical progression. By the last harvest, his income increased by Shs4.3 million (See percentage increases below). Beaming Mwaka now has his eyes fixed on improving his marketing system. And he believes UTS and its partner, MESPT will help him achieve this dream, too.

His irrigation system around every tree

The healthy fruits he produces

The Sweet Taste of Banana Farming


hen Paul Mutisya Kioko decided to retire from Paul in his banana plantation near Kathiani town emploment early, his He was excited when he eyes were set on farming. “I addition to dairy farming. “I heard that Universal Traders don‟t know about rains any was interested in farming Sacco was setting up a since I was young. Even as a more.” he says. When all branch in Kathiani. young school boy, I was the income is combined, Kioko can only say, ”I have keen on farming.” “It was my wish answered. I no complaints. I am very, was excited.” And he was not When he started working very happy with UTS.” disappointed when UTS fiand bought a bigger piece of nally set up a branch office. land near Kathiani town, he For example, a harvest of realized that lack of water his tomatoes currently Loans from UTS have enabrings him more than presented a big challenge. bled him to bring water to his He wanted to be free from Shs350,000/- while a harfarm where he grows banahis dependency on erratic vest of the sugarcanes nas, maize and tomatoes in rains. brings him more than Shs100,000/-. “I tried getting loans from regular banks but their terms were impossible,” he says. The problem was compounded by the fact that there was no bank in Kathiani. A local financial institution would understand local famers needs, Paul believed. Inspecting tomato seedlings

Now he plans to increase his income by more than 70% with the help of the sacco, “What I can tell farmers wanting to get loans is have a vision. Money helps only those who have a vision!”


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Alluring Aroma of Coffee is in the Air Again Kathiani coffee farmer, Peter Muindi was helplessly watching the disease that had infested his crop spread and his income dwindle. The income from his 500 coffee trees had dropped from 600,000 to Shs 200,000/which could hardly cover his needs.

Peter Muindi can now smile again after his coffee trees have been revived, thanks to a soft loan from UTS

he became a member of UTS was used to buy sprays and fertilizer. Now , Peter is a happy farmer, expecting to harvest 10,000 kilos of coffee beans this season, up from 6,000 kilos that he harvested last year.

And Peter is sure His first loan when now his return will

Sahelian Solutions (SASOL) Foundation has over 20 years experience in Food Security interventions in Kitui Kenya and selected countries in Africa - Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Burkina Faso reaching over 400,000. SASOL has been

exceed Shs600,000, he had been getting, He showed us neighboring farms with plants that had not even flowered. ―My farmer colleagues are now beginning to see the advantage of getting loans to improve their farms.‖ Peter is a member of

in the forefront in development of water structures for food production, building capacities of local community management structures, diversification of production, promotion of best dry land Agricultural practices and linkage to mar-

Mukuyuni Coffe Farmers Cooperative Society where he says he has become a passionate promoter of UTS. ―I have been urging my fellow farmers to join UTS so that they too can benefit. Some10 farmers, he says have joined as a result.

kets. SASOL believes that focusing on Agribusiness value chains such as green grams, sorghum and livestock is the way to go for local economic development. The organization is headquartered in Kitui town.

Together we prosper

UTS Today


Success Begets Others Groups form to access funds Sarah Ndunge Kimolo of Utangwa in Mbooni is one of the farmers who have taken advantage of the Horticulture Loan—a product of UTS in collaboration with MESPT. She collected other horticultural farmers and formed a group, Kyabee and they all became members of UTS. “We got our first loan when we were 2o members. Now we are 50.” Success of Sarah‟s group has influenced other farmers to form groups, with every group‟s members joining UTS. Sarah estimates that there are now more than 10 groups covering much of the Mbooni hills. And she further estimates that the minimum savings per group is Shs 500,000.

Sarah stresses a point as she talks about her horticultural farming at her home in Utangwa, Mbooni


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Supporting the Future Youth are now appreciating that ‘Wealth is in the soil’ Wycliffe Kyalo Waema (pictured) is a young man of 23 years. But he is also a very serious farmer. When he completed his secondary education in 2009, he decided to stay home and do farming. “All my brothers had gone to Nairobi, leaving behind a good piece of land,“ he says. Due to lack of funds, he started planting French beans on only a quarter of an acre using a generator. Then he became a member of Kimwango Horticultural Farmers Association which enabled him to get seeds and advice on farm-

ing and marketing. It also enabled him to access loans. Kamwango, which is supported by MESPT, requires all members to become members of Universal Traders Sacco so as to access loans for farming. Titus Mbai is the chairman of the Association which covers a sizeable area of Makueni County. Like Kyalo,

Mbai, now 60, was interested in farming but he had no capital. Unlike Kyalo, when he completed school, he went to Nairobi and found work. He raised some money from his employment, bought a generator to pump water and returned home. “I wanted to be a farmer, and with water now I was ready.” When he started farming, however, he realized that generators were very expensive to run. “I needed Shs4,500 every week for diesel alone.”

Together we prosper

UTS Today

That is when he learned that he could get an NRM loan to lay pipes and construct storage to get free flow water to his farm.

come is Shs120,000. He plants sukuma, French beans and maize.

In his farm which was lush with tall healthy maize plants nearly ready for harvesting, Mbai plants French beans, water melon, green grams, tomatoes, cabbages and passion. The association is encouraging the youth like Kyalo to take up farming. So far, more than a

Titus Mbai shows his free flow water irrigation in his flourishing maize farm (above) while Kyalo Waema takes a visitor through his French beans farm (Facing page) quarter of its members are youth. Kyalo‟s is a success story that has influenced other youth.

Before he started getting UTS loans, his income was only Shs10,000 a month. Now his monthly in-


“Water is very important for horticulture crop farming. Some crops such as water melons have demand when it is hot and there is no rain,” says Kyalo. He plans to increase his farm size from the current five acres to 10 acres. And he is hoping to influence more youth to realize that “wealth is in the soil”.


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back home. The door opened and I counted: One, Two, Three! I cried! ‖ But it was that near total collapse that put Joan to action She and her husband, a long time honey merchant, went to work to change their situation.

ositive dissatisfaction is something we read about in books but Joan Mutua of Kathonzweni in Makueni lives it. According to her, she was so poor that her daughter was always sent back home to collect school fees arrears. ―Our situation got worse when our three daughters joined the same secondary school—one after the other! I lived in dread of seeing them all back home to collect school fees arrears.‖ But it happened. ―One day they came

Joan Mutua at her farm: “ My immediate goal is to have six milking cows”

Together we prosper So she took a Rabo loan - a joint effort between UTS and Rabo Bank Foundation of Netherlands to upgrade her dairy cows. ―I wanted my cows to produce at least 15 to 20 litres each,‖ she says Today Joan, 47 and her husband are thriving dairy farmers. And now Joan is ready to move to her dream. ―I will be the happiest person when I will have at least six cows each producing at least 20 litres.‖

MESPT: UTS Partner From Page 4

MESPT was established in November 2002 by the Government of Kenya and the European Union to assume and continue with the activities of the Micro-Enterprises Support Programme (MESP), previously implemented by the Government of Kenya and the European Union. So far,MESPT has used Shs3.7 billion in loans to support micro, small and medium enterprises throughout Kenya. Over 20,000 enterprises have benefited from MESPT programs nationwide. ―MESPT is committed to expanding the impact of our products and services across the micro, small and medium enterprise sector,‖ says Serah. ―We believe that in that way we can cascade innovation, enterprise and market-building strategies. This will in turn advance our vision and mission which is to alleviate poverty by creating employment in microenterprises.‖

UTS Today


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