Poverty and unemployment remain the biggest challenges facing Kenya today, posing a threat to growth while undermining social stability.
Youth and women are the most affected by the two impediments that continue to hamper national development programmes compounded by other demands such as infrastructure and services required to spur socio-economic progress.
The dearth of equity and inclusivity in the distribution of resources despite the guarantees of the Constitution has been most felt by the youth, who constitute the largest segment of the population.
While the relevant policies and plans have long been in place to address the challenges, the pace and effectiveness of their implementation have not.
Yet there are a number of success stories whose implementation can be fast-tracked to effectively curb poverty, create employment and generate income for the youth.
The cooperative movement is one such shining example that has the potential to steer the country’s social and economic transformation. Today, Kenya’s cooperative movement is ranked first in Africa and seventh globally with an asset base of more than Shs 1 trillion.
Last Saturday, Kenya and the world celebrated the International Cooperatives Day (Ushirika Day) without one of the doyen’s of the movement, Stanley Muchiri, who passed on in October last year.
Muchiri, a former chairman of the Cooperative Alliance of Kenya and Cooperative Bank, made an enduring contribution to the cooperative movement in Kenya and globally and there is need to share his vision as a tribute to the massive contribution he and the other departed founders of Kenya’s cooperative movement envisaged.
Countries must grow their economies inclusively so that everyone benefits; governments and national institutions and important home-grown and community-based organisations such as cooperatives must invest in their people, and ensure those who have risen above poverty do not fall back into it.
Muchiri wanted the role of cooperatives in Kenya’s socio-economic development recognised as the best example existing as a successful model of self-sufficiency that can be replicated across entire Africa. That is the spirit of the cooperative movement.
Speaking during Ushirika Day celebrations, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised to give cooperatives a conducive environment to operate as he recognised the movement’s crucial role in social and economic development, especially in the achievement of the Big Four agenda.
The movement will welcome the President’s assurance and directive for the fast-tracking of the formulation of the National Cooperative Policy and the operationalisation of the Sacco Societies Fraud Investigation Unit within the Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority.
This timely move will ensure the youth are fully integrated into national efforts to enhance all-inclusive development. —[email protected]