July 02, 2018   by

It is now around the middle of the year. Much has happened in your group for the past six months: there have been the good times and the bad times. All in all, it is about the right time to take a keener look at your chama’s progress so far (if you have not already done so) to see where you stand as a group.
There were resolutions that you set at the beginning of the year concerning your investments and other financial matters. Instead of waiting for December to review them, its good to take some time early enough and see how much of that has been achieved and what remains to be done. This will help to refine your focus as a group and prevent the piling up of mistakes.

So how do you go about taking stock of your chama’s progress?

Be Objective

It is very important that you approach this activity with some objectivity, and avoid being biased and too lenient on yourselves. Be ready to point out failures and mistakes whenever they have occurred so that they can be addressed appropriately.

Bring all members on board.

This will not be a duty of some of the members or the group leadership alone. Every member must be involved and encouraged to give his/her views on the state of the group.

What to look out for

Book keeping
This is the time to bring all financial records for the past six months on the table and scrutinize them carefully. There are important details that may have been missed in the previous group meetings that should be captured at this time. The treasurer should update the group on all financial issues in detail and every pending unresolved issue to be addressed.
The group’s expenditure should be analyzed to find out how it compares with income. All miscellaneous spending needs to be accounted for, and books should reflect the true state of the group financially. Investments that the group has made so far should also be discussed and analyzed. Have they been successful and sustainable? How better can the group make its investments in the coming years? What are some of the investment decisions that cost the group money and how can they be addressed?
The treasurer can prepare profit and loss statements for that period to give clearer view of the financial standing of the group.

Partnerships made.
Group members should review the various business partnerships and investment deals that have been made over the six months. This will give each member a clear view of the group’s current standing in relation to external organizations. The group should come to know which partnership has benefited them and which is not bearing fruit so as to know the ones to cultivate and those to detach from.
Partnerships especially with financial institutions are very important to a chama’s success or failure and should always be approached with caution. The type of partners that a group has will ultimately determine its fate. A group should never shy away from terminating partnerships that it feels are not benefiting them as they should. Those that are found to be growing the chama should be deepened and encouraged to grow.

Membership.
It is highly unlikely that the chama has the same members it had some six months ago. It is possible that some members have left, and new ones have joined the group.
The real strength of a chama is its membership, and issues affecting members must always be addressed with seriousness. If members have been leaving the group, it should be sought to understand the reason for their leaving. Maybe it is because they do not agree with some of the policies of the group, or maybe they feel that the group is not helping them to actualize their goals. These must be addressed if the future of the group is to be secured.
New members can be a good source of insight on the state of the chama. They should be encouraged to give their views so far about the group and whether it meets their expectations. The group can also review how the relationship between members has been, the impact of various team building activities carried out and whether the members feel a part of the group. No member should be left to feel that he/she does not belong or is unheard in the group.
Going forward, resolutions should be made about how to deepen relations among members.

General impact of policies.
It is the policies and values that a group holds which determine the direction it takes. Policies influence decisions made which eventually decide the fate of the group.
Take ample time and try to analyze how the policies the group uses have influenced its course so far. Most important are the financial and investment policies. Are they having a positive impact on the economy of the group or are they derailing the group’s progress? It is helpful to consider individual policy rules rather than judging them in general. Even the most seemingly insignificant of policies, like those regarding fines and penalties for members’ misconduct, could be affecting the group in a big way.
Review of these policies and their impacts should be followed by appropriate revision, to strengthen those that have been of benefit and adjust or completely discard those which have not helped the group. At this point, common discussion by all members is important.

Going forward
It is important to pause and reflect on the past and plan for the future. This way as a group you will avoid some mistakes that you could have made and gives members better understanding of all the dynamics of the group.
This stock taking should be done carefully so that all issues are amply addressed.

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This post was written by Victor Makau

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