Dr. Moses Chebor, the CEO of Boresha Sacco (formerly Baringo Teachers Sacco Society) in Baringo, counts it as the most significant day in his life: the day when he missed a job with the East Africa Industries (EAI) now Unilever. He had just completed his secondary school studies hoping to get a job to educate his siblings being the first born in a family of three. Everyone was sure he would get the job as everything was staked in his favor. But that was not to be so.
“When I didn’t get the job, I prayed. I promised God that if he showed me what he wanted me to do, I would never fail Him,” recalls Dr. Chebor, who traces his strong Christian faith to the day his father, fresh from serving in the army, introduced him to Bible reading.
“I believe God listened to my prayer. I had just got out of the bus in Kabarnet back from Nairobi, the headquarters of EAI, when I met Samuel Cheptoo, former Deputy Mayor of Kabarnet Municipality who was then a councilor. I narrated to him my frustrations in Nairbi. He took my hand, walked me to a signboard with an advertisement for a clerk at Tugen Hills Farmers’ Cooperative Society. He gave me a piece of paper and encouraged me to apply. It wasn’t long before I was called for an interview and I was hired – starting me on a career of service in the cooperative movement.”
It was at Tugen Hills Farmers’ Cooperative Society that Dr. Chebor met the men whom he now counts as his greatest inspiration – Mr Joseph Musyoki, who was then the Baringo District Cooperative Officer who taught him the golden rules of accounts – the credit and debit – and the highly talented and professional Mr. Robert Sang who was the Baringo District Cooperative auditor, whose accounting dexterity made him wonder whether he could ever be like him. “These were men of integrity, highly qualified, who believed in iligently serving the public,” says Dr. Chebor.
He didn’t stay long before the Cooperative sponsored him for a course at the then Cooperative College of Kenya (now The Co-operative University of Kenya) where he learned accounts, the subject that had so much impressed him. These experiences led Dr. Chebor to develop a philosophy of life based on trust in God, humility and service to everyone with a motto: ‘God lifts you to higher levels if you humble yourself.’
And as fate would have it, a test of his philosophy soon popped up when he attended a youth camp at Ossen High School. In his pocket was Shs1, 200 he had borrowed to buy iron sheets to refurbish his house. “When I arrived at the camp I found it was poorly organized – even food for the campers was lacking. I decided to use part of my loan to buy foodstuffs for the campers.” And, to his surprise, while at the camp, he was invited for an interview at Baringo Teachers Sacco for the position of Secretary Manager. And even more surprising was that he got a letter offering him the job with a higher salary before he left the camp. “I saw this as a sign of Gods’ faithfulness and it encouraged me to keep my promise to God.”
Baringo Teachers Sacco Society was a small organization housed at Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) offices when Chebor joined it. The membership was only 1,800, but with an asset base of Shs 15 million, much more than that of the Tugen Hills Cooperative. It would certainly need diligence and skill to manage just as his mentors – Mr. Musyoki and Mr. Sang – had warned him. Fortunately he quickly noticed that the management led by the late Nicholas Komen Kangogo, a man of integrity with passion for justice, honesty and thoroughness, was dependable. “At Baringo Teachers, I found a management team committed to building a successful Sacco. “
Today, Boresha Sacco boasts of an active membership of over 60,000 and 108,000 per register, an asset base of Kshs7.2 billion, loan book of Shs5.7 billion and member savings of Shs4.7 billion. With its Head Office at Eldama Ravine the Sacco has 15 branches in Ravine, Kabarnet, Marigat, Mogotio, Kabartonjo, Mochongoi, Barwessa, Eldoret, Nakuru, Kapsabet, Chemolingot, Tenges, Mumberes, Kipsaraman, Kisanana and several satellite offices.
Boresha Sacco membership has also widened to include small and micro enterprises (SMEs), Farmers, Jua Kali business persons, youth and women groups as well as chamas. In addition to savings and credit facilities, members access business training, exchange programmes and capacity building.
But like other organizations, Boresha Sacco has had its share of challenges. And over the years, Dr. Chebor has used his philosophy to deal with the challenges and to build the Sacco to the rank of the top 10 societies in Kenya. Among his achievements, Dr. Chebor counts his efforts to keep the Sacco undivided following the creation of new districts in the 1990s. The formation of the new districts led to a wave throughout the country to split saccos in line with the new districts. Boresha Sacco was not left out after Baringo District was divided into the districts of Baringo and Koibatek. “It was a campaign that was as fierce as it was prolonged. We fought hard in the management to avoid any split because we believed that members would benefit by keeping the Sacco united.”
Dr. Chebor also faced a tough challenge convincing members to contribute money for two plazas, the Teachers Plaza at Eldama Ravine and Mwalimu Plaza at Kabarnet. Today, the two magnificent buildings stand as iconic landmarks having been constructed between the years 2000 to 2005 at the cost of Shs261 million raised through equity shares owned by members.
A similar situation occurred when the Sacco decided to rebrand in line with the trend occasioned by changes introduced in the government cooperative development policy that allowed the widening of the common bond in 2010. ‘A section of the members did not want the name change that omitted the key words, ‘teachers’’ and ‘Baringo’. They feared they would lose their ownership and control. We were convinced that the changes were necessary and made tireless efforts to show the benefits of the changes to the members.”
And indeed they were necessary. In fact, the Sacco has since had phenomenal growth and was the second in the country to be licensed by the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority, Sasra.
Under Dr. Chebor’s leadership, the Sacco has remained focused on service to members and the community. It set up and supports Bartek Institute which has so far trained over 15,000 students from the community. But the Boresha Vijana Empowerment Program (BVEP). remains the most ambitious of the Sacco’s community service projects. Launched in 2019, the program intends to empower and mentor youth in agri-business, creative arts, entrepreneurship, sports, technology and Innovation as well as career development and life skills.
BVEP is a project of Boresha Community Foundation (BCF) the corporate social responsibility arm of Boresha Sacco which was founded in 2012, as Not for profit entity and company Limited by Guarantee. It serves to enable the Sacco realize its vision of being the financial provider of choice by positively impacting the community with a focus on education, leadership development and peace Initiatives.
Dr. Chebor has been at the helm at Boresha Sacco for over 34 years. And in 2010, he was recognized by the Geneva-based ILO-Coop Africa for his work in steering Boresha Sacco while the Society was recognized for trajectory growth. And because of his consistent and dedicated service to the community and application of his Christian values in the successful management of the Sacco, Dr. Chebor was awarded an honorary PhD by the American University (AU), one of the top 10 universities in the USA. Chartered by an Act of Congress in 1893, the aim of the AU was to create an institution that would promote public service, internationalism and pragmatic idealism.
From his experience, Dr. Chebor believes that leaders should not just be qualified but they should also be with foresight and integrity.