Founded in 2001, Socatur is the only certified transport company in the city of Douala, Cameroon. The previous transport company, Sotuc, closed in 1995 and in the meantime, the inhabitants of Douala had to find other means of transport which were very often much less secure and more expensive i.e. moto-taxis.It is in this context that Socatur took over and restarted the business with a fleet of fewer than 20 buses. It not employs 500 people and has 200 buses. The company is a real structure on which the whole city counts on not only for transport, but for social assistance as well.
SOCATUR : from public transportation to micro-credit
7. Community involvement
- Increase the number of buses to 500 by 2012
- Provide access of public transportation to more people- Help children who come from poor families with a better education
Despite investments in vehicles and poor highway conditions, Socatur continues to expand the bus network in Douala. With only 20 buses in 2001, the company now has 200 which covers about 20 bus routes and is planning to reach a fleet of 500 buses by 2012.
Socatur provides access its bus network to as many people as possible by reducing the ticket price to 150 francs CFA instead of 200 francs CFA as requested by Sotuc. It has also established a special rate for students 100 francs CFA per ticket.
The company trains its employees and all benefit from health care benefits. They go even further by creating a micro-credit institution within the group named Conader. The creation of this program arose from four findings:
- The state cannot meet all the needs of the population in terms of health, education, transportation, water, energy, food, etc.
- The company still lacks the means to finance the schooling of the children of its employees
- Traditional banking institutions refuse to finance the projects of people who do not have enough income and capital guarantees.
- Each school year, there are thousands of children who drop out of school due to the inability of the parents to cover the financial burdens related to their education
Conadi grants academic credit at a 0% rate for some employees who cannot borrow from conventional banks. This system has also been extended out to low-income self-employed business people who are also excluded from the traditional banking system. The credits generally have a duration of 6 to 12 months depending on the amount borrowed and the borrower’s ability to pay it back.
CONTRIBUTION TO COMPANY PERFORMANCE
- Reduced employee turnover (rotation) due to training programs
- Development of turnover (profits) via the expansion of the bus fleet
- A safe public transportation service with affordable fares made available to all
- Health care benefits to all employees of the company- Contributing to the education of children