By Kimuri Mwangi
Kenya has the most advanced cooperative sector in Africa, and number eight in the world.
According to Macloud Malonza the Chairman of Cooperative Alliance of Kenya, more effort is being applied to ensure the country moves further up in the world rankings. Malonza says cooperatives play a crucial role and urged Kenyans to inculcate the culture of saving to ensure that at least even if one loses a job today, there is something to turn to. He adds that if more Kenyans saved, the government will not be going outside to borrow as Saccos will be able to give the government the money it needs for projects.
“We are celebrating the revival of the cooperative sector as you remember over the years it had gone down but now, we pride ourselves as we have really grown. In fact, it is very important for anybody who is not in a Sacco to join one, that’s for any Kenyan who wants to develop and grow. Saccos are a sure way of development and the government has done a lot for us. We have a regulator for deposit-taking and non-deposit-taking ones so the issue of governance is already addressed. Saccos are the fastest growing in the financial sector after the banks. We have Saccos now almost nearing Kshs 10 billion as an individual sacco and the rate of returns to the investment are now very competitive with some even giving a return on your investment of up to 18% on dividends,” says Malonza.
The industry captain says that there are plans to make the sector more effective in future. One is the Sacco Central system which is intended to bring all the Saccos together to enjoy economies of scale in terms of having a presence on the ICT platform. He adds that they have realized it is very difficult for some Saccos to bear the cost of just getting an application as they are so small. ICT is the way to go he says as it makes the services cheaper and available to any brand and the government has approved some money to go to the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) to ensure that that system is created and implemented.
Malonza says after devolution in 2010, the country did not come up with a legal framework to take care of Saccos both at the national level and the counties to ensure that there is synergy and that we don’t have counties having different laws which are affecting the growth and development of the sector. Therefore there a bill on the way to address that.
Malonza was speaking at The Jamhuri Showground in Nairobi during a tree-planting exercise. “Today marks our Environmental Day to plant trees as they are very important to any country. First of all, to some cooperatives, trees provide raw materials for value addition like those who are doing dairy and coffee. Businesses thrive in a good environment, so if we play with the environment that is also affecting our business ecosystem, we are not going to be able to nurture the growth and development of the cooperative sector. Today we are here to plant trees for our annual target which the government has given each institution. Each staff is expected per year to have at least a minimum of 30 trees. That will move us to 15 million and within 10 years we want to be at 15 billion trees by 2032. We are supporting the government in terms of addressing climate change because it has a lot of effects in terms of the people. If the environment is affected even people’s savings will go down because they won’t have business to do to bring money to us to save. A good environment brings synergy in our business ecosystem because the environment first ensures everyone has something to eat first as it provides food like maize, coffee, millet and all those products,” opined Malonza.
Daniel Marube, the Executive Director of Cooperative Alliance of Kenya said the opportunity gives the more than 16 million members in the cooperative movement all over the country a chance to plant trees including those who don’t own land. “The tree planting is one of the activities we are having ahead of the celebrations next week. On the first Saturday of July all over the world, we will be celebrating the International Day of Cooperatives which was put aside to celebrate the achievements because all over the world cooperatives have been considered the best model that addresses the needs of the common people by bringing people together to solve their problems. This is because there is much more that you can achieve when you work together than any one person can achieve at any time. The celebrations will be held across all the counties and the theme this year is Cooperatives: partners for accelerated sustainable development,” said Marube.