International Day of Cooperatives (7th July, 2018)

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A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise". The first Co-operative Society in Kenya was established in 1908 and it was a dairy Co-operative. Kenya always celebrates this Cooperative Day. Cooperative is translated as “Ushirika” in Swahili language .In Kenya you will find cooperatives started by all types of organisations. Many can be found in education institutions and rural areas where citizen try to save in order to secure loans for economic purposes. One obvious reason why Kenyan prefers cooperative societies is because of the low interest rate levied on loans by these societies. Cooperatives have become successful due to regulations imposed by the government.

I have been a member of the cooperative society since the day I started working. I can attest to the benefit of the cooperative society in terms of my economic development. It was only through the Cooperative society that i managed to purchase my first assets, which was a plot. Many Kenyans have taken their children through school with the help of the cooperative society. The value of cooperative societies cannot be wished way and it will continue playing a significant role in the lives of many Kenyans only if the government keeps a close eye on them.

Cooperatives operate under the following outlined principles

  • Membership is open and voluntary
  • Should be  democracy  - members should be able to set their guidelines and policies
  • Members should be able to contribute equitably and democratically
  • Members should be able to control it
  • Must receive  education, Training, and Information about their cooperative
  • No cooperative is an island, it should work with other cooperative societies
  • It should depict concern for community

To start a cooperative society in Kenya it should fulfil the following requirements;

  • It should have a name and the name approved by the Ministry of Cooperative at Sheria house
  • It has to go through a  registration process
  • A license from SASRA to approve operation must be sort - SASRA is mandated by section 24 of the Saccos Societies Act 2008 to license and regulate the Cooperation of Deposit Taking Saccos.
  • Mandatory numbers of members at registration is dependent on sector
  • It is mandatory that members are above 18 years old
  • Operation can commence after receipt of certificate of registration from the registrar

The following are assorted cooperative society you will find in Kenya;

  • Savings and credit cooperative society
  • Housing cooperative societies
  • consumer cooperative societies
  • Agriculture/Farmers Co-operative Societies
  • Marketing Co-operative Societies

The benefits of cooperatives in Kenya can be listed as;

  • Creation of employment
  • Access and Provision of affordable finances
  • Women empowerment
  • Building of local expertise
  • It tackles poverty and food security
  • Sharing of knowledge is possible

Happy Cooperative Day to All!

Compiled by Grace Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library