It is approximated that the vibrant community micro-saving groups have collectively saved up over a billion shillings through the merry-go-round system. Obviously, without proper systems, financial management and accountability is a challenge. But one student has identified the gap and has come up with a software that manages chama money and contributions.
Barry Songa, a University of Nairobi Electrical Engineering student, has created Aynek Chama Software. The software enables you to organize chama records and perform basic accounting on the financial transactions.
“When you look at the structure of our micro-investing groups or chama, as we call them here in Kenya, you realize that a lot of them lack the necessary managerial expertise to handle the funds and operations,” says Songa.
Songa explains that although chama activities basically operate by collecting money from members and investing in land, property or other ventures, they operate more on trust rather than reliable systems hence the need for a reliable system. “We are going digital after all,” he chides with a laugh.
The budding software developer was spurred to develop the system after a member of his family had a bad experience with a chama she was in when funds were mismanaged leading to a collapse of the group.
Songa teamed up with another software enthusiast Eric Omollo, a KCA University Information Systems graduate, to form Aynek Info-Systems Ltd. The two conceptualized the idea into the now fully function software after extensive research on chama operations. They are targeting women groups, youth groups and other micro investment groups.
He says that Aynek Chama (premium edition) software can only manage one group at a time but is quick to point out that they are in the final stages of developing Aynek Chama (enterprise edition) software, that would be used by organizations to manage multiple groups.
“The premium edition software has been broken down into different components and modules in order to achieve a simple design and also to increase its functionality,” explains Songa
He enumerates the module and their functions as; – User manager, Contribution Manager, Loans Manager, Asset & Expense Manager and Accounting component and reporting which performs basic accounting on all financial transactions. This is done to ensure that all cash transactions are tracked and accounted for at any given time. This module also generates statements and saves them. These statements/reports entail financial report, members list, contributions and cash flow among others.
“The good thing about our software is that it is installed on a personal computer enhancing privacy and data security,” assure Songa.
The software can be downloaded on Aynek store (www.aynek.co.ke ) at a fee of Shs 7,000 though they are in talks with multiple organizations to have the price pushed down to Shs 4,500.
“We invested more than Shs 470,000 from the company resources so we have to charge a little to at least achieve break even point.”
He explains that the cost could run up to 1.3 million if other add-on costs are factored in.
According to Mr. Songa, they didn’t have any sponsors and hope to make money by selling the software licenses.