The abbreviation SACCOS stands for "Savings and Credit Cooperative Society". Savings and Credit Cooperatives are bodies created by a group of people with a common interest (churches, workers' unions, community groups e.t.c.), whose objective is to save collectively, then make loans available to the group's members. It is owned by the members, and exists solely to serve their needs. As such, the SMEAZ SACCOS was set up by members of the SME Association of Zimbabwe to respond to the difficulties that SMEs face in obtaining funding. It is a vehicle through which we collect contributions and savings from members, and are able to issue guarantees or other financial instruments that will enable our members to access capital.
Zimbabwe's banking sector is currently dominated by commercial banks, and a few recently-established Micro Finance Banks. Though most commercial banks have SME divisions, in practice we have found that they use an extension of the products and rules applied to large corporations, then also demand collateral security in the form of title deeds for immovable property, which most SMEs do not have. Thus there is very restricted lending to our rank and file members.
Benefits of SACCOS
The SACCOS responds to this problem by being able to offer a guarantee, where a member has successfully met the requirements for any financial insitution's loan products, barring the need for collateral security. The SACCOS then comes in, together with other players, to provide a guarantee in lieu of collateral security.
Previously, the SACCOS used to provide loans, but we realised there was moral hazard and inefficiency in this arrangement. We therefore do not directly issue loans any more, but rather provide a guarantee to third party institutions that do the actual loan disbursement and management.
The SACCOS is also able to provide guarantees for other debt arrangements such as installment purchases/hire purchase, credit facilities e.t.c.
Guarantees are for up to six times the value of a member's savings. This figure will be revised upwards as the savings base grows.
Becoming a member
To become a member of the SACCOS, you will need to complete an application form which is available from the offices of the SME Association of Zimbabwe or can be downloaded by clicking here. There is a joining fee of $50 and you will also need to subscribe for a minimum of 5 shares at $10 a share. Thereafter, you will need to make a minimum monthly contribution of $20 or such higher amount as you may wish.You can also deposit savings with the SACCOS, to earn interest.
To borrow or benefit from the SACCOS, you must be a paid-up member of the SME Association of Zimbabwe. Details on this membership can be obtained by clicking here.
Members are able to save and invest in the SACCOS. On becoming a member, one subscribes for a minimum of five shares, which earn dividends based on the surplus that the SACCOS makes at the end of a specified period. Over and above the dividend income, there will also be interest income on yours savings. This is earned from the lending activity. Interest rates on the savings account are competitive and market-based. They are published on a regular basis, but are in the range of 5% to 12% per annum. There are no charges applied on savings and contributions accounts, therefore there is no danger of your savings being whittled away.
Fixed investments as well as transaction-specific investments can also be arranged on a one-on-one basis.
How do I get a loan guarantee?
To get a loan guarantee from the SACCOS, you first need to be a contributing member to the SACCOS, and a member of the SME Association of Zimbabwe as indicated above. Loan guarantees are applied for through the Loans Committee, and need to be approved by the Management Committee. Loan guarantees are given on the basis of funds available at any given time. Older members of the Association and SACCOS have priority access, and guarantees are approved on the basis of business viability. Subject to vetting and assessments, as well as the period for which one has been a member of the SACCOS, members can access loans of up to six times the amount which they have in savings.
Additional details on the SACCOS can be obtained from the Association's offices, or better still by attending one of the SACCOS month-end meetings, at which all members and officers will be available to answer your questions.