Various speakers at the Thuso SACCOS Annual General Meeting held over the weekend shared the view that Co-operatives are sustainable business enterprises and have remained afloat despite the economic challenges which face them.
Co-operatives development in Botswana date from as far back as 1964 following the enactment of the first regulatory framework, “Co-operative Societies Act (Cap 42:04)” in 1962 and the registration of the first co-operative society in Swaneng Consumers Co-operative Society on the 31st July 1964. The first Thrift and Loan Co-operative Society (now SACCOS), was Mochudi Thrift and Loan Co-operative Society, registered on the 23rd July 1965.
“This ladies and gentlemen is a clear indication that co-operatives have remained relevant and indispensable and this success is attributable to them upholding their core Co-operative values and principles as their anchor,” said Ivy Kelebogile Kekgobilwe, Principal Co-operative Auditor I from the Department for Co-operative Development, when giving an overview of Co-operatives in Botswana.
She shared that there are about 270 registered Co-operative Societies in Botswana, out of which 66 are Financial Co-operatives known as SACCOS (Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies), while 204 are non-Financial Co-operatives operating in various sectors of the economy which among others include retailing, horticulture, arts and crafts, property development and management.
The Thuto SACCOS AGM was held under the theme, Financial Inclusion and Freedom, and Kekgobilwe was of the view that Co-operatives increase financial inclusion among the members. “Hence improving their socio-economic status; these among others include youth, women, low salaried. Being enterprises democratically controlled by their members, co-operatives also allow workers to participate in the decision making processes that affect them,” she said.
SACCOS have a turnover of over P80 million and a net profit of around P30 million. They have disbursed loans to members amounting to P400 million against total savings of over P270 million, with an overall investment portfolio of over P171 million, which part of is invested in property.
Dr Ellah Matshediso, Director Human Resource Development Planning (Supply) at the Human Resource Development Council, believes that Thuto SACCOS exists to promote the culture of saving and the economic well-being of its members by affording them an opportunity for savings, and to create a source of funds from which loans can be made to them exclusively for provident and productive purposes at reasonable prices.
She hailed the contribution of SACCOS to the economy of Botswana, noting that they come from a long way back. She highlighted that financial inclusiveness can only be achieved if members take an active role in the Societies. “You have the obligation to guard jealously of your investments by ensuring those elected into powers abide by the constitution,” she advised, saying further that every member should take active role to avoid the collapse of their Co-operative, and that there is need to increase membership.
“If you look at our books, you would realize that since 2016, our financial base has been increasing tremendously. Our membership has also grown from 800 to about 1200 members,” said the Thuto SACCOS Chairperson, Charles Keikotlhae.