Two-thirds of the Kenyan population directly or indirectly benefits from a co-operative movement, the government has revealed.
Co-operatives Principal Secretary Ali Noor Ismail said that, to date, about 14 million Kenyans are members of a savings and co-operative society, Sacco, with over 22,000 cooperatives registered.
Noor said the co-operative movement in Kenya not only impacts the agriculture sector, but cuts across all sectors of the economy.
“The total asset base of all co-operatives in Kenya is over Sh1 trillion including the housing, financial, agriculture, manufacturing, transport sectors and even informal sectors.
Savings and co-operative societies currently control over 30 per cent of national savings and contribute over 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product. This has led to the local movement being rated seventh in the world and number one in Africa,” said Noor.
Speaking to the Star yesterday, the PS said the government has been able to implement sound strategies focusing on encouraging youth and women, new business opportunities and encouraging mergers and acquisitions. He gave an example of the youth, who have been able to join and register saccos in the matatu, bodaboda and tuktuk businesses and also through the National Youth Service.
“Financial inclusion and access to finance for people who would otherwise not have been able to afford bank loans has led to the high penetration rates and growth of co-operatives in Kenya,” Noor said.
Mary Mungai, commissioner for co-operatives, also attributed the growth to the fact that cooperative societies were traditionally formed or founded along specific bond lineages that serve to identify or distinguish persons who qualify and are eligible to become members.
“However, these traditional bond lineages are fast disappearing, with many co-operatives loosening or opening up the bond to allow the eligibility of every adult citizen for their membership.
For example, the Kenya Police is now accepting members from other sectors other than the disciplined forces, the same case as Stima Sacco where one does not have to be working in Kenya Power to be a member,” said Mungai.
Other factors contributiong to the high growth of Saccos are the growing social needs of Kenyans. This includes the high demand for home ownership, with land buying companies converting to saccos.
Tough rules by banks where they charge high interest rates on extended loans are also contributing, she said.
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