Government Leveraging Co-operatives To Drive Bottom Up Economic Agenda
Being one of the world’s oldest and largest business networks, the cooperative movement was the first group of enterprises worldwide to endorse the SDGs and be recognised as a partner in achieving these goals. This year’s theme is “Co-operatives: partners for accelerated sustainable development” and the celebration held on 1st July marked the 29th International Day of Cooperatives recognized by the United Nations and the 101st International Cooperative Day. The government of Kenya pledged to spur the growth of the sector to help drive its economic agenda as narrated by Ker Mogallo.
Kenya’s President H.E William Samoei Ruto said the Government is keen on strengthening co-operative societies to stimulate the country’s economic growth.
The President, who was the Chief Guest at the 101st Ushirika day marked on 1st July, 2023 at Kenyatta International Convention Centre grounds noted that co-operatives will support the formalisation of informal sector players and entrepreneurs. This, he explained, will help bring hardworking Kenyans together, allowing them to benefit from the economies of scale in line with the co-operatives’ theme for this year; “Co-operatives: Partners for accelerated sustainable development”.
The day of the co-operatives, usually, is characterized by stakeholders including the government reflecting on the sector’s performance over the past year and charting the way forward guided by the theme as provided by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).
The 2023 Ushirika Day Fete Is Unique…
The Ushirika Day marked on 1st July 2023 is the first Day of the Co-operatives marked during the first year of the Kenya Kwanza regime led by HE. Dr. William Samoei Ruto, PhD. Eight months into his rule, the government has paid special attention to the sector by establishing a stand-alone Ministry of Co-operatives and MSMEs under the stewardship of Hon. Simon Chelugui.
“Co-operatives also have the power to nurture a saving culture and offer members access to affordable financing. We will put in place new policies, including the establishment of a central liquidity facility, to enhance efficiency and quality of Sacco services,” said the President in his speech.
He added that the government’s BETA model seeks to address the basic human needs including food security and housing as clearly enunciated in its Manifesto popularly known as the PLAN.
“The changes will also facilitate short-term inter-Sacco borrowing and facilitate access to the national payment system,” the President added observing that this will also reduce operational risks encountered by Saccos.
The President further explained that the Government is complementing co-operatives by setting up aggregation and distribution centres for storage, value addition and marketing of agricultural products.
“The objective of this partnership is to reduce post-harvest losses, eliminate predatory cartels and boost farmer earnings.” Said Dr. Ruto.
“Co-operatives are the wheels that drive the economy. The sector holds the key to driving economic growth from the grassroots as exemplified by the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).
I want to reiterate my commitment and that of my ministry in supporting Cooperatives in implementing the identified priority value chains. This is because we firmly believe that this is one of the ways we can create employment opportunities for the youth. We recognize the potential of specific value chains to drive economic development and uplift communities,’ said Cabinet Secretary Co-operatives and MSMEs Simon Chelugui.
The CS added that through targeted support, the government will ensure that co-operatives have the necessary resources and guidance to excel in these priority value chains.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The CS quoted Margaret Mead.
It therefore behooves the co-operative sector players to leverage the existing political goodwill and explore new frontiers that are part of the government’s own declared policy.
Deputy President H.E Rigathi Gachagua making his remarks urged farmers to group themselves in Saccos to help increase their bargaining power.
“The Co-operative Movement has been a catalyst of our country’s economic growth for decades. Even in the midst of myriad challenges, the Movement has remained strong and steady bringing Kenyans together in the sacred duty of building our nation and improving their lives. To keep it stronger, we will work with the lawmakers to amend the Cooperative Societies Act to make it accommodative of the Movement’s modern needs.” Said the Deputy President.
According to government, the co-operative sector is best placed to deliver the planned decent and affordable houses to the citizens with the government facilitating the capacity building of targeted youth through the TVETs. This can be actualized if the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in conjunction with other stakeholders including the Cooperative University and the State Department of Co-operatives develop relevant training materials to be used in all TVETs across the country.
Furthermore, TVET graduates can then be organized to form “Worker Co-operatives” to bring on board the professionals in the building industry as has been over-emphasized by the Head of State in the recent past. They can then be engaged progressively to construct decent and affordable houses for the qualified and needy citizens across the country.
In line with this model, the worker co-operatives will affiliate to NACHU for technical support or better still register a stand-alone Federation to coordinate their activities and enter into Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) with the national government for purposes of accessing the Housing Tax funds that will be generated following the enactment of the 2023/2024 Finance Act .
Players in the industry have noted that the President has been unequivocal in his push to have the country become self-sufficient in food production. To demonstrate his commitment to the same, farmers have since late last year benefited from subsidized fertilizers that will lead to increased productivity.
The current National Co-operative Policy, inter alia, advocates for contract farming which receives the support of the government and development partners through provision of modern farming equipment to maximise production and eradicate post-harvest losses. Needless to mention, the activities create employment for many citizens.
The best of the best awarded…
During the event, the Kenya National Police DT Sacco was named the best managed Sacco countrywide. United Nations grabbed the second position while Co-operative Bank Sacco emerged third with all three receiving trophies which were presented by the President.
Equity Sacco received the trophy for the most efficient Sacco while Safaricom Sacco emerged as the best Sacco in technology optimization, UN Sacco emerged second in this category while Stima Sacco landed position three. Safaricom Sacco also emerged Position 1 Best in Deposit Management Deposit Taking SACCOs Employer based SACCOs Tier 1 and Position 3 Most efficient Deposit Taking SACCOs Employer based SACCOs Tier 1.
Hazina Sacco was feted for being Position One in the category of the Most Efficient Deposit Taking Sacco, Position Three on the category of Best Managed Deposit Taking Sacco Employer Based Sacco Tier 1 and Position Three on the category of Best in Credit Management Deposit Taking Sacco Employer Based Sacco Tier 1.
Bingwa Sacco emerged as the best Sacco in capitation as Muki Sacco and Ports Sacco emerged second and third respectively in the category.
The most improved Sacco award went to Karura Community Sacco with Shaeco Sacco settling for position two in the same category.
The third most improved Sacco tag was taken by Kenya USA Diaspora Sacco. Sholloyes Sacco, Co-operatvie Bank Sacco and Kenpipe Sacco were also named as the Saccos with the best deposits management ethics respectively.