The Co-operative Alliance of Kenya (CAK) is the National Apex Organization for Kenya's Co-operative Movement. Its membership consists of over 20,000 registered Co-operatives comprising the membership from: National Co-operative Organizations (NACOs), Co-operative Unions(County Unions, formally called district coop Unions) and Primary Co-operative Societies. Mostly dominated by Saving and Credit societies, referred as SACCOs
The individual Co-operative members to these Co-operatives are over 10 million with mobilized savings of over Kshs. 250 billion or 30% of the National Savings. Those employed in the sector are over 555,000 persons.
CAK was registered on the 22nd December 2009 under the Co-operative Societies Act, CAP 490 of 2004, to replace the hitherto National Apex body, Kenya National Federation of Co-operatives (KNFC).
The Kenya National Federation of Co-operatives formed in 1964, as the first Apex organization, had key objective of promoting the development of the Co-operative Movement in Kenya. In line with its objective, KNFC was instrumental in initiating the establishment of specialized Co-operative Institutions, many of which are now key National Co-operative Organizations (NACO's) playing a critical role in the financial sector such as the Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd, The CIC Insurance Group Ltd, KUSCCO, NACHU and many SACCOs among others.
The formation of CAK consequently was a response to the need by the Co-operative Movement to have a single voice in addressing its concerns on the national and international stage.
CAK's primary role is that of lobby and advocacy for a favorable legal and policy environment. CAK in addition has the role of collaboration, networking, representation and the promotion of the growth and development of the Co-operative Movement.
Firstly, Co-operatives are instruments of social justice through which a substantial number of people especially from the lower strata improve their real and relative position thus reducing diseconomies which may arise from social imbalance. Co-operatives continue to be an important means to empower the least privileged persons and those at the perpetual risk of becoming poor to achieve economic security, an acceptable standard of living and a better quality of life.
Secondly, Co-operatives play a critical role in the economy of this country and are vital engines for the development of the Nation. Today, the co-operative movement in Kenya cuts across all the key economic sectors, for instance Agriculture, Finance, Transport, Housing, both formal and informal Employment sector, - mobilizing and pooling resources, driving economic growth and empowerment of the Kenyan population; contributing significantly to poverty alleviation and nationhood.
The co-operative movement has a solid footprint in Agriculture, - the bedrock of Kenya’s economy. There are about 4,414 registered co-operatives in Agriculture, with a membership of over 1.8 million accounting for over 90% of production in coffee, cotton, pyrethrum, sugarcane, tea, dairy, fisheries and farm purchase. Most of the small scale tea and coffee production is under co-operatives which accounts for over 60% of the country’s production. These two crops are among the top 4 export earners in the country. Coffee Co-operatives have recently formed their own marketing body (KCCE), whose impact has been an increase in the price paid to the farmer rising from a paltry Kshs 20 to over Kshs 120 per kilo. Tea farmers are organized into 52 Saccos countrywide with a membership of over 430,000. These farmers own all of the factories under KTDA thus controlling over 60% of the country’s production. Co-operatives also play a major role in the dairy sector controlling production, processing and marketing. With the revival of the Dairy sector in 2004, co-operatives have invested in processing plants and cooling centers for example Githunguri Dairy which is ranked among the top three processing plants in the country while dairy production has gone up to 453 million litres. Farmers have been organized into dairy co-operatives resulting in the increased production. Co-operatives have contributed to the growth of the fisheries industry where the membership has increased tremendously to 42,000 members by the end of 2010.
The movement has a membership of over 8.9 million Kenyans; - a model in co-operative development in Africa, - with over 12,400 registered co-operatives. Considering an average family of 4 members it is estimated that the co-operative movement impacts directly and indirectly 32 million Kenyans. Indeed the Ministry of Co-operative Development estimates that 80% of Kenya’s population derives their income either directly or indirectly through co-operative activities. A further 5,628 co-operatives are Savings and Credit Co-operatives (SACCOs) with more than 6 million members accounting for 30% of the national savings.
Economic Driver - The movement boasts of an annual turnover of around Kshs. 436 billion (4.4 billion USD) equivalent to 45% of the national GDP. The movement has played a key role in financial deepening and intermediation. Co-operatives have mobilized savings of over Kshs 230 billion, accounting for 31% of the gross national savings while providing affordable credit of over Kshs 184 billion to members. The over 5,628 Savings and Credit Societies (SACCOs) have established over 400 Front Office Services Activities (FOSAs) in both urban and rural areas providing basic banking services to over 4 million Kenyans, - which number compares favourably with the number of accounts in the commercial banking system. Some SACCOs are now key financial sector players and providers of micro finance services. Indeed, the Government took cognizance of this key sector, appreciating the need to safeguard the huge public funds handled by the SACCOs and saw the need to provide a legal framework to govern this sector for the protection of the public funds held and therefore enacted the SACCO Societies Act under which the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority was established with the mandate of licensing FOSAs and supervising them and providing a Deposit guarantee fund.
The Co-operative movement boasts of formidable national institutions in the financial sector and other sectors, - wholly owned and managed by indigenous Kenyans (the ordinary mwananchi) that are a source of national pride, which are success stories in their own right, competing with and overtaking long established multi nationals and private enterprises, impacting and transforming their respective areas of business and influence.
In the education sector the co-operative movement has been the principal provider of significant credit for education of members’ children and most of the educated elite today can point to a Co-operative society within their locality that provided credit for their school fees and facilitated their education. Co-operatives have provided successful models to encourage savings and access to affordable credit to about 95% of the over 245,000 employees of the Teachers Service Commission and an equal percentage in private learning institutions. The movement has also invested in training institutions such as Co-operative University College as earlier highlighted and Bartek College (Baringo District).
In the transport sector, the Government has sought to address and resolve the chaotic management of the matatu industry through requiring all motor vehicles operators in the public transport sector to organize themselves into co-operatives for ease of management and enforcement of discipline. We have a total of 514 registered transport Saccos which has resulted in notable order in the industry and encouraged self-regulation and discipline among the players.
Co-operatives create and provide employment; the movement has employed over 550,000 people besides providing immense opportunities for self-employment both in rural agriculture, and in the formal and informal sectors. The potential for more employment opportunities in the co-operative sector is demonstrated and appreciated.
Thirdly, Co-operatives are vehicles that have cut across social and ethnic divide and have been, and continue to be, instruments of promotion of nationhood and pride and integration of culture and promotion of diversity and unity. Co-operatives provide opportunity for wealth creation through savings and borrowing accordingly. They also create small and medium businesses sustainably thus minimizing poverty and increasing food security. Among the seven principles of co-operatives are the (i) Voluntary and open membership, (ii) co-operation among co-operators and (iii) Concern for the community. These principles are at the heart of co-operators in Kenya and across the world. Kenya with its diverse ethnicity and cultures has benefited a lot in this regard from the formation and activities of co-operatives. The National Co-operative organizations and the SACCOs in particular have been models show casing unity of purpose in the midst of diversity.
Fourthly, on the International front, the Kenyan Co-operative movement is recognized as a model in Africa and the World. The Co-operative movement in Kenya is the largest in Africa and ranked 1st in Africa and 7th in the World.
The Kenyan SACCO sub sector was internationally recognized and admitted to the Group 10 (ten) of the most developed movements globally, - which include United States, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Poland, Costa Rica, Caribbean Confederation and Ireland.
Arising out of the success of the co-operative model in Kenya, other countries in the region have sought the assistance and guidance of the Ministry of Co-operative development and the Co-operative movement in Kenya in establishing a vibrant co-operative movement, and indeed Kenya’s input has been invaluable in the revival of the co-operative movement for instance in Rwanda.
Key Facts and Figures:
2012 International Year of Co-operatives Celebrations:
CAK together with the other stakeholders launched the 2012 International Year of Co-operatives on the 29th November, 2011 where His Excellency, Hon. Mwai Kibaki, E.G.H., M. P, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya was the Chief Guest of Honor. The event was marked with exhibitions, entertainment and key speeches on Co-operative enterprises. The year 2012 as the year of Co-operatives was greatly appreciated as it offered tremendous opportunity for Co-operatives to take practical steps to reinforce the role of the Co-operative Movement in social and economic transformation of this country, and to strengthen the Co-operative movement through a number of key interventions and activities.
These activities included active advocacy of Co-operative ideals and promotion and formation of Co-operatives; demonstration and showcasing the successes and effectiveness of Co-operative Organizations; integration of Co-operative approaches in policy development; providing Co-operative education in school curricula and in entrepreneurship training; exploring new avenues for Co-operative development and drawing lessons to strengthen this model; and ensuring that the national and international policy and legislative environment for Co-operatives is enabling and not restrictive to Co-operative Growth.
The Co-operative Alliance of Kenya addressed factors that impact negatively on women’s ability to join and effectively participate in Co-operatives by incorporating strategies for enhancing women empowerment in the “2013-2017 CAK Strategic Plan”. This was in view that women are the majority agricultural producers in agricultural based Co-operatives, yet they main marginalized as compared to men.
Regarding youth participation in Co-operatives, it is important to note that the youth unemployment crisis hasbeen of key concern during the International Year of Co-operatives cerebrations in Kenya. 60% of the Kenyan population is under the age of 35 while the Kenyan unemployment rate is approximately 40% with an estimated 64% of unemployed Kenyans being youth. We have recognized the fact that the future of the Co-operative movement is in the youth. Over 2,000 Youth Co-operatives have so far been registered.
Other IYC activities that took place include: fostering co-operation among Co-operatives for better synergies, carrying out National Co-operative Leaders Meetings, Sports and Family days, National Youth Consultative Forum and organizing and holding the International Co-operative Day Celebrations in Nairobi and in many other regions country-wide on the 7th July, 2012.
Where is CAK taking the Co-operative Movement in the future?
CAK seeks to;
ü Encourage Co-operatives to improve quality and quantity of agricultural products e.g. cotton
ü Encourage Co-operatives to undertake value addition for better returns and employment and wealth creation
ü Facilitate Co-operatives to improve governance and management
ü Mainstream youth and women in Co-operatives for prosperity and continuity through mentorship and inclusion in leadership
ü Encourage Co-operatives to venture into housing projects to provide affordable and descent shelter. For more information visit coop.com