Esther Wanjiru Maribe is the managing director at Kuza Sacco, a financial Sacco offering savings, investments and loan services.
This Sacco started as a merry-go-round with a group of 25 members that met and contributed monthly. Later, the group broke up but a few members remained and evolved into a SACCO. Kuza Sacco was registered in 2013. The Sacco faced many financial challenges and got into huge debts. I joined as an employee, with my professionalism in cooperatives management.
I was able to mitigate the problems and repay the debts that were owed. In 2020, I was became the Sacco’s chief executive officer. We have several products that include housing investment, group loans, check off loans, clean energy financing (Eco-friendly stoves, construction of biogas, briquettes making equipment etc), boda boda loans, agribusiness loans, and investments fund.
We broke even and started making profit one year after I joined the Sacco as the CEO. The main challenges we faced were funding gaps due to high demand for loans against low savings. There were also the Covid 19 shocks that caused job losses and business closures, and caused huge member defaults. Inflation and high cost of loans have also been challenging for our members.
Previously, I was employed at Medspan Medical Equipment Supplies as the Sales Manager. I later joined Muthiru Sacco before I moved to Kuza Sacco.
I employed a large workforce with hope that I would penetrate a wider market. This proved futile as I didn’t have adequate expansion capital. I solved this by downsizing the workforce to a smaller group In the early days, I also invested heavily in marketing but this did not realize the expected returns. I changed tact and adopted an online marketing strategy that proved to be more effective.
If I were to start all over again; I would separate the business as an independent entity to my personal expenses. I would with a well detailed plan of the business and future plans. I would have a clear budget and financial plan.
I would cut down my expenses and focus on increasing revenue. I would take relevant business development courses and implement the knowledge gained.
I save through Sacco. I use a Sacco investment account that gives passive income annually. Previously, I saved in a merry-go-round where money revolved annually but earned no interest.
Cash is king-make. You need multiple cash flows to get ahead in business and in life especially as a woman. As a woman, I find that I need to have more than ten ways of earning income to meet my needs and break even in business.
This calls on me to work more hours and innovate more to stay ahead. This can be quite taxing. I have also learned the importance of mentorship and the role it plays in personal and business growth. My mentors have really guided me especially on digital marketing and grant funding.
A version of this profile feature on Esther Wanjiru Maribe of Kuza Sacco was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.