Chamas are a great for way for you to get into investment. For one, you have the benefit of numbers thus you can achieve more and two, when you join with other people, you learn more. Chamas are popular because the members help each other learn how to make better investment decisions. If you are not in a chama, you can either form one or join an existing one.
Many of us find it easier to join a chama that is already in operation as it removes the hassle to starting a new chama from scratch. Whilst this may look like the easy way out, you need to be on the lookout. Do your due diligence before joining any chama. Keep in mind that although chamas are good, not all of them may be a good fit for you. Chamas are different and some may not have members of equal quality or are structured in a manner that will not be beneficial to you. So it is important when hunting for a chama to join, to look for certain traits that distinguish the right chama for you.
It’s a good idea to look into the founders of your potential chama. Are they doing the traditional merry-go-round thing or are they into bigger investment ventures such as shares, land, etc? This can determine the quality of the information you receive at meetings. If the founders are just having a social chama with the merry-go-round system and you want to buy plots and do bigger things, then the chama may not be right for you. Knowing beforehand will give you a better idea what the purpose of the group is, is it a social outlook or serious investment ventures. If you find one that seems to have the same investment outlook like yourself; keep your eyes peeled and see if this chama has the same investment goals in common with you. Perhaps you are a conservative investor and want to invest in more stable investments such as fixed deposits and treasury bonds, but they’re out to aggressively find volatile, quickly growing but risky investments.
Find out the chama’s mission statement. If it does not sound like it will meet your needs as an investor, then joining that chama will likely be a waste of time and money for you. If you like the mission statement, do your homework and find out how the club has lived up to its mission statement and you will be able to get an even better idea of whether or not it is the right chama for you. Talk to a few chama members and ask them what benefits they get and have gotten in the past. How has the chama benefited them? Consider whether or not the chama is best suited for beginners or seasoned investors.
If people in the chama consist of mainly affluent people or low income earners, you can be pretty sure that the club will be beneficial to you if you can fit in. As the old adage goes, birds of a feather flock together. You must have something in common with the other members otherwise you will not fit in and you will not be comfortable in the group. Likewise, if the chama consists of mainly family members, as an outsider you may not fit in and may not understand the inner workings of the chama. The bottom line is, select a chama where you have something in common with the members so that you can fit in, trust the members and feel comfortable as well. Also, it is important to attend a few meetings before you decide to join and see if get along with the other members. If many of them seem too quiet, loud, obnoxious, young, old, aggressive, meek, or wishy-washy, this might not be the best group for you.
Find out, what activities does the chama currently have scheduled? What activities are the members discussing for the near future? What activities have they had in the recent past? If you want to know the direction the chama is taking and whether that direction fits your goals as an investor, you will need to find answers to these questions. Some chamas have a lot of social activities and bonding activities. Others focus more on educational activities. If you are not sure of the types of activities that are being run by the chama you wish to join, ask if you can attend a few of their meetings and activities. This way you will be able to see if the chama is a good fit for what you hope to achieve.
Is the regular contribution too steep for you? Kshs.20,000 per month, for example, means Kshs.240,000 per year. This can be a lot for some people. If you join a chama with a very high monthly contribution, you will end up straining and fall out along the way. Thus choose one that has a reasonable monthly contribution that is pocket-friendly.
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