Thursday, 08 June 2023 13:39

COOPERATIVES AND MSMES: DRIVING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND EMPOWERMENT IN KENYA

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The Council of Governors (CoG) led by the Chair, H.E. Anne Waiguru joined leaders, dignitaries, and Kenyans for the Pre-Madaraka Day exhibitions and the 60th Madaraka Day celebrations led by the President H.E. Dr. William Ruto at the University of Embu and the Embu Moi Stadium respectively. The Madaraka Day celebrations were a culmination of the four-day exhibitions themed: Cooperatives and MSMEs, Trade and Revenue with a keen focus on Housing, ICT and Revenue, Devolution, Agriculture and MSMEs, Cooperatives, and Trade with each day taking a different theme.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the exhibitions on 26th May 2023, President William Ruto underscored the importance of the affordable housing programme being implemented in collaboration with County Governments, noting that it would create employment opportunities for youth in Kenya.
“We intend to construct about 200,000 houses every year. All these houses will be constructed by Kenyans with an average of about 5 masons per house, we are looking at about 1, 000,000 jobs every year. Further, other jobs such as interior designers, cooks, architects, and material vendors will be created,” said the head of state urging stakeholders to support the Affordable housing initiative as the benefits outweigh the purported risks.
The CoG Chair, who graced the Devolution and Agriculture exhibitions called upon farmers to organize themselves or join cooperatives in order to access financial support, markets as well as better prices for their produce. Governor Waiguru highlighted that through such groups, Kirinyaga Coffee farmers managed to fetch the highest coffee bonuses of more than Ksh. 1000 per KG in the year 2022.
“Agriculture-related cooperatives play a pivotal role in boosting productivity and facilitating market access for smallholder farmers. These cooperatives have made efforts to establish input distribution systems for their members, ensuring access to quality inputs and securing fair market prices,” said the Kirinyaga County Governor.
County Governments in Kenya have a constitutional mandate to participate in economic planning and development, including fostering the growth of MSMEs and cooperatives. With an allocation of Ksh. 35.5 billion to the agricultural sector in the fiscal year 2020/2021, County Governments have made substantial investments in agricultural development.
“County Governments have invested in the agriculture sector by supporting farmers with necessary inputs and prioritizing agricultural mechanization by acquiring tractors and establishing mechanization stations. Such initiatives have significantly contributed to the development of cooperatives and MSMEs, particularly at the county level,” noted the CoG Chairperson.
However, even with such interventions, challenges persist, such as inadequate purchase structures and market linkages. By understanding market demands, cooperatives can provide members with improved access to seeds and other inputs, fair pricing, and diverse agricultural products and services.
Speaking during the same event, Embu Governor H.E Cecily Mbarire noted that the County Government of Embu is working with other Counties including Nairobi and Mombasa to establish special markets for produce from Embu such as Miraa and Muguka. This follows complaints from cooperatives and individual farmers on high market access fees in some Counties.
Kenya's cooperative sector is the strongest in Africa, controlling approximately 43% of the country's GDP. Cooperative societies provide employment opportunities for over 300,000 people and offer self-employment opportunities to many more. Among the sub-sectors, Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) have experienced remarkable growth, mobilizing savings of over Kshs 230 billion. Currently, there are approximately 15,000 registered cooperatives with around 12 million members. The sector also funds small-scale and informal enterprises, further boosting employment and economic activities, particularly at the county level.
County Governments are working in partnership with the National Government, the Private sector, and other stakeholders to strengthen these cooperatives and spur growth in the sector.

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