Kenyan Technology Company Transforms Management of 'Chamas'
A Kenyan technology company has developed a web application that enables investment groups to automate their financial records and systems, from collection to investment, bringing transparency and efficiency.
The product, dubbed Chamasoft, enables groups, popularly referred to in Swahili as 'Chamas', to monitor collection and investment of funds and track group income and expenditure. Through the cloud based software, chama members are also able to view group accounts on a dashboard such as their group statements, how much they contributed throughout their chama lifetime, penalties contributed and all other financials pertaining to the members and group.
According to Martin Njuguna, founder of Digital Vision EA, the company behind Chamasoft, the service was created to enable groups overcome challenges they face such as transparency, communication and the lack of a simple system where they can check their balances and receive automated reminders on group activities.
"We found that a lot of chama's have big plans but they have no secretariat. Most people have day job's and can only attend one or two monthly meetings. We created Chamasoft to solve this problem. Chamasoft is an online office which any chama member can visit virtually and monitor group financial activities. We are very impressed by the feedback so far and the uptake has been incredible," he said.
Chamasoft also offers free SMS and email alerts and tracks member invitations. The software has automated the processes of issuance and tracking of loans and monitoring of Chama assets and liabilities.
The revolutionary service is one of the 40 technology services and companies that will be officially launched at the Demo Africa conference in Nairobi later in the month.
"We tried as much as possible to understand how chamas work and the challenges they face. From the feedback we have received so far, we have been able to improve chamasoft to truly fit the needs of a chama. There is nothing like this in the market. We believe we will have a first mover advantage," said Njuguna
Chamas are common in Kenya and have evolved from the traditional women groups where women saved and borrowed funds for household utensils to groups that have acquired millions of shillings worth of assets.