• Mudavadi, former VP Awori and Atwoli are expected in Bungoma on Saturday to launch community-owned microfinance that will ease access to financial credit.
• Is also in the process of establishing a Sh2.5 billion cancer centre and a transport company that will be operated by women.
A community association in Western wants residents to diversify farming as part of the fight against poverty.
Western Community Health Association (Wecohas) plans to launch Okoa Finance, community-owned microfinance, to allow farmers easy access to financial credit.
Director Charles Chunge on Thursday said Okoa Finance has about 23,000 shareholders drawn from Bungoma, Kakamega, Busia, Vihiga and Trans Nzoia counties.
Wecohas has come up with a number of projects to uplift the community from poverty. Other individuals behind it include ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, former Vice President Moody Awory and renowned plastic surgeon Stanley Khainga.
On Saturday, Mudavadi, Awori and Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli will be in Bungoma to launch Okoa Finance.
“We intend to provide cheap loans to our people for business and retention of the billions of shillings that leave this region annually to purchase goods and services. The plan is to turn the microfinance into a community bank,” Prof Chunge said.
He said they will establish a Sh2.5 billion cancer centre and a transport company that will be operated by women.
“We've realised a lot of the money our people spend leaves this region. For example, bottled water alone draws more than Sh5 billion annually and this is the money we want to retain here and change the lives of our people,” Chunge said.
Youths will manage two state-of-the-art water bottling factories. This is part of efforts to reduce unemployment.
The association wants coffee and tea farming reintroduced in the region to provide farmers with alternatives.
The region has heavily relied on sugarcane farming for the past three decades and the looming collapse of the sugar sector has necessitated the need for other sources of incomes to avert an economic crisis.
The once premier miller Mumias Sugar Company is not operational due to huge debts and acute shortage of raw materials occasioned by poaching of cane by rival millers. Nzoia sugar factory is on its death bed.
Edited by R.Wamochie