By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- The study tour by the Phuthalichaba’s management to Kenya has generated excitement and optimism within the delegation as they envision propelling the cooperative to greater heights.

Phuthalichaba is a savings and lending cooperative under the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub.

Phuthalichaba’s CEO Tebello Tjapela this week told this publication that he and his delegation comprising of Itumeleng Likhama – Admin Officer, Relebohile Mokhele – Finance Officer and Nthabeleng Shepho – Credit Committee Member are on an educational travel programme and are attending a Credit Management workshop at the Kenya School of Credit Management in Nairobi.

Kenya is known for having successfully run cooperatives. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s report, this east African country has cooperatives responsible for 45 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and they also account for 31 percent of the national savings and deposits.

Their study tour in Kenya he said was triggered by among others that “Kenya’s Cooperative movement which is one of the largest and most vibrant in Africa. With over 15,000 registered SACCOs and a membership of over 20 million, SACCOs play a crucial role in providing financial services to Kenyans. This is particularly noted in rural and underserved areas.”

Tjapela said they also took a tour at one of Kenya’s successful cooperatives, TAI SACCO where they had an audience with its CEO and Head of Credit.

“We were impressed to find a SACCO which has its own 3 story building, it has cash counters and an ATM. It has its own subsidiaries which is what we are already trying to do with Phuthalichaba. We learned a new Governance Structure as well from the SACCO.”

He said they are brokering a deal with TAI SACCO’s that will see the collaboration between the two cooperatives joining forces in information sharing as well as the policy developments.

Phuthalichaba’s CEO continued: “We learned a lot from their history and were inspired to change a lot of ways we do things as we come back.

“The training helped a lot regarding our operations, particularly on issues dealing with the Credit Policy and the entire Credit Management. This workshop is the best thing that has ever happened for Phuthalichaba.”

Asked what members can expect from this exercise, he promised the improved Credit Policy, improved operations or service delivery and the generally improved performance of the cooperative.

He said Basotho should anticipate more financial products tailored to their needs going forward.

The CEO also vowed to ensure that Phuthalichaba grows and in the process creates more jobs for Basotho.