Trust me, your money is safer with a cooperative

Sarah Kahogo is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Safaricom Investment Co-operative. She has a degree in finance, banking option, and a masters in international economics and trade, both from Moi University. Additionally, she is a CPA-K holder and started off her career as a finance lecturer before switching to financial management, a path that saw her grow to her current position.

Tell us about Safaricom Investment Co-operative.

SIC was set up in 2009 to undertake joint investments for its members and has been in the real estate space since its inception.

As an investment cooperative, we pursue various opportunities that benefit our members who are drawn from the current and former staff of Safaricom PLC and the general public.

Our core business includes the sale of land, real estate, property management, and private equity. Currently we have over 5,000 members and we have successfully delivered on five housing projects and over 130 land deals.

How does a typical day at work look like for you?

My work days start relatively early and I am always in the office by 7am. I start my day by reading a book, reflecting on our business and planning for the day.

I then have meetings throughout the day with short breaks in between. I regularly meet with the cooperative stakeholders in and out of the office to ensure that our members get the best investments and value for their money.

What attracted you to finance?

Surprisingly, it happened by chance. I heard a lot of people saying that a Certified Public Accounts (CPA) , which is a prequalification to be a public accountant, was a very difficult course, and that inspired me to conquer that which was thought to be hard.

So my CPA certificate laid a foundation for a career in finance. I pursued a degree in finance and a masters in international economics and trade.

My growing experience heightened my interest in the field. Finance jobs are exciting, challenging and fast paced, all of which appeal to me.

The career also allows you to have a bird’s eye view of an organisation and understand what keeps it operational on a much deeper level, while slowly ushering you into leadership roles.

Based on my experience, I’d say finance is a profession in which I am able to provide solutions that impact lives, and that’s a reminder that I am in the right career.

Is your experience in the field what you expected or imagined it would be like?

Absolutely! Earlier on, I imagined that being in finance would be challenging, and fast-paced, and that is how it has been throughout my entire career.

Despite the lots of challenges, the field is still very exciting. Every time I encounter a challenge, I take it as an opportunity to solve a problem.

Overcoming the challenges means that I am constantly growing as a person and in my career, which is something I believe everyone needs to experience in theirs.

How does one pick the right investments and avoid falling prey to pyramid schemes?

I always advise clients and the general public to conduct thorough background checks on any investment opportunity before actually investing their money in it.

Before investing with any company, check whether it is duly registered with the required bodies, whether it has proper organisational structures and audited financial records.

For us, we work with registered advocates who help us conduct due diligence for all our products before making any investments.

As an organisation, we have also implemented policies and processes that ensure that we are not exposed to high risks and that our client’s investments are secure.

Why should one invest in a cooperative?

It is important to note that co-operatives play a key role in creating an enabling environment to save and invest.

They are regulated by the ministry of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and cooperatives. That means that by investing in them, your money is protected by law.

Additionally, cooperatives offer its members growth opportunities and a seat at the table to influence decisions through member participation.

Finally, they allow one to enjoy discounts in products they offer, and based on the cooperative’s performance. Members also get to enjoy very competitive rebates.

What does success mean to me?

Living a well-balanced life, something I am still striving to achieve. I also believe that success is a process and not a one-time event. In my career and day to day activities, I like to visualise my successes through projects that we embark on as an institution.

At any given time, I have many projects running concurrently and I try as much as I can to ensure that we successfully deliver on every single one.

The success of these projects is also my personal success . One of my proudest achievements so far is building the SIC to provide value and great returns to its members.

What advise would you give a young person regarding investment?

Based on my experience in finance, I’d say there is never a proper time to invest other than now. Currently, there are a lot of opportunities for young people to own properties and plan their future through making financially sound investments at an early age.

I believe what matters most is taking the step to invest, rather than the actual size of the project. Through proper investment decisions, one is bound to experience growth, but they first need to take the first step of actually investing.

What is your vision and goal for the cooperative in the next few years?

My key focus is to make a model investment co-operative and to transform the society into a world-class institution that gives members premium returns year after year.

To bring this goal to fruition , we are banking on technology as a key enabler to deliver services efficiently and conveniently to our members.

We are currently implementing a new enterprise resource planning project christened “Project YURI” that brings efficiency to all areas of the business, from finance to business intelligence, administrative management as well as employee self-service, customer and shareholders portal.

I am excited about this project because it will ensure enhanced growth and operations of the society while providing services to members conveniently.

What are your other talents and hobbies?

I am very intentional about leading a healthy lifestyle, and when I am not in the office, I enjoy going for long walks as a form of exercise. I am also very active in mentoring young people, particularly women, into leadership and finance.

With the ubiquity and power of the internet and social media, I am active on social media where I lend my voice on various meaningful topics in the business world and other topics that pique my interest.