By Duncan Mlanjira
Housing Investment and Development Cooperative Society Ltd (HIDCO), that was registered just last year but was actively operational this year, has been running a promotion campaign enticing members to join and will hold the promotion’s draw between November 4-8.
Chairperson Robert Mbeza said the promotion, named ‘Ndalowa Nawo’, started as soon as HIDCO became actively operational early this year and the first phase ended on Thursday, October 31.
“We are planning to film the draw and announcement of the winners for transparency and accountability and all the video clips will be posted on the members’ forum,” he said.
“The next activity will now be to create another group of prospective members. This means the first group that has qualified as shareholders belongs to Members only.
“It also means that all those that have started paying their membership fees but have not yet completed will be moved from the Members only group to the HIDCO Prospective Members Group.
“This group will include everyone else on this group even if they haven’t started making any payments because there are some that are still working on starting to pay.
“The bonafide members’ first task is to hold a special membership meeting to elect board members and other committees which will replace the current interim board.
“In the Executive Committee, we will include members living in diaspora and one of those will have viewing rights on the bank account through internet banking.
“This will enhance transparency and accountability of the Executive Committee members especially those in Malawi, who will be working on the books of accounts, issuing cheques for payments and reconciliation of both members and bank accounts.”
HIDCO’s mission is to empower people interest to acquire real estate investment.
The cooperative was formed by Malawians living in the diaspora by a group of professionals, entrepreneurs and those interested in building and infrastructure development and general development of Malawi, has hit the ground running in just a year since it got registered.
It currently has a total assets portfolio of almost K20 million, most of it collected in the last six months.
Mbeza is an internationally recognized professional in the cooperative industry with 36 years of experience (since 1983), who has initiated establishments of a number of SACCOs both in the country and in several African countries.
“The idea of HIDCO came about from a discussion group called Malawi Builders Network comprising Malawians living around the world notably in the US, UK, Canada, Alaska, Australia, South Africa, other European countries, several southern African countries and in Malawi.
“This group has physical planners, surveyors, property developers, architects, engineers, transporters, real estate agents, finance experts, you name it.”
He explained that the network created a Whatsapp Forum to discuss and share ideas on businesses and how to develop and support each other in their various enterprises and business ventures.
The Forum was also to create a source of market for each other so that if one needed to buy land for building a house, or wanted to transport their goods from South Africa, or they want a building contractor, then they could network through the WhatsApp platform.
“It was through the WhatsApp group that a discussion in the area of housing investment brought the idea of establishing a housing cooperative.
“Through the expertise within the group about cooperatives development, members came to know how cooperatives are formed, their benefits, challenges and their impact that they have on the personal development of its members and the community at large.
“So Malawi Builders Network (MBN) agreed to establish and register a housing cooperative and it was registered on 31 May 2018.”
He explained that MBN was initiated by John Pangani, who is an entrepreneur in real estate, tourism transporter and radio DJ for University of Notre Dame Radio (2hrs Reggae Show) living in South Bend, Indiana, USA.
While the housing cooperative idea was initiated by Mbeza himself having had such a vast experience with financial cooperatives since 1983 and has worked in Malawi, USA, Kenya and South Africa in this profession.
Mbeza said HIDCO is targeting every Malawian living around the world — Every one who is interested in housing and investment can join as a member.
He said MBN has membership of over 200 Malawians and out of this group, 52 showed interest to establish the housing cooperative of which 30 have opened their accounts with HIDCO so far.
“To open an account with HIDCO, one needs to pay membership fees and thereafter start saving in shares.
“We have two types of shares, Mandatory and Voluntary. For one to be a full member they must have 10 shares of K73,500 each which is a total of K735,000 and both fees and the 10 shares can be paid over time.
“After the 10 shares, a member can opt and we do encourage them to continue saving in Voluntary Shares as much as they want.
“This helps members to increase their investment in HIDCO for better benefits like bigger dividends and bigger loans.
“One can get up to one and half times their shares both mandatory and voluntary. So our current total assets are almost K20 million, most of it collected in the last six months.
“Currently, we have purchased land behind Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe where we have plots of 40 by 30 on sell to our members.”
He said currently they are building access roads on the land named HIDCOville utilizing local labour where they are set to give out 34 plots where members will build their homes.
“Since our drive is for total cooperative, we had to choose between using a tractor or the local community. We decided to hire a local roads contractor that uses lsbour in the community in order to bring short-term employment to the local community of HIDCOville
“This is our first site but the intention is to get to everywhere within Malawi where our members want to build their houses like Blantyre, Zomba, Mangochi, Kasungu, Mzuzu, Karonga, Mzimba and anywhere.
“HIDCO plans to assist its members as much as they can. For services, we hire from within, starting with physical planners, surveyors, architects, contractors, suppliers of building materials etc.
“We are promoting our own members, who are running various businesses to work with us. So all those involved with any housing related businesses, this is an opportunity for business within HIDCO through their own personal investment and getting business out of it.”
Mbeza is a former top executive of Malawi Union of Savings & Credit Cooperatives (MUSCCO) in which he joined in 1990 before going to the US for further studies.