Global Programs

Kenyan co-op sector joins NCBA CLUSA to launch new USAID Cooperative Development Project

The new project will advance Kenya’s co-op sector, which currently counts 14,000+ co-ops and more than 15 million co-op members.

Kenyan cooperative leaders and stakeholders joined NCBA CLUSA staff and other partners in Kenya last month to officially launch NCBA CLUSA’s new USAID Cooperative Development Program (CDP) project. Called Cooperative Ecosystem and Social Inclusion (CESI), this new CDP-funded project will be implemented by NCBA CLUSA in Kenya, Madagascar, Guatemala and Peru from October 2023 to September 2028.

Daniel Marube, Executive Director of the Cooperative Alliance of Kenya (CAK, the Kenyan co-op apex organizations); and Patrick Kilemi, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of MSMEs and Cooperatives (a new ministry that houses the State Department for Cooperatives) attended the launch, along with David Rogers, USAID Kenya’s Deputy Director of the Office for Economic Growth and Integration.

In his opening remarks, Rogers reiterated the value of the cooperative model and emphasized its role in achieving development goals.

CDP/CESI builds on NCBA CLUSA’s previous CDP project, Creating an Environment for Cooperative Expansion (CECE). Lydia Omamo, NCBA CLUSA’s Country Representative in Kenya, explained CDP/CESI’s three key objectives: 1) further strengthen co-ops’ capacity, 2) advance cooperative enabling environments, and 3) spur the application of CDP learnings and tools within the development community. In all four countries, CDP/CESI’s approach will strengthen the core co-op ecosystem actors and advance the inclusion of women and youth.

Under our previous CDP project, participation of women in cooperatives grew significantly in Kenya, reaching 23.3 percent within project partner cooperatives. Similarly, women in membership and leadership roles increased respectively by 23.9 percent and 33.75 percent during project implementation. NCBA CLUSA helped Kenyan co-ops facilitate amendments to cooperative by-laws to promote women’s participation in membership and leadership.

CDP/CESI aims to continue this progress while also promoting youth involvement in cooperatives. With CDP/CESI support, an innovative financial inclusion product called CASA DADA will be expanded to increase the number of women it benefits through recruitment and training, said Steven Murithi, Deputy CEO at Capital Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO). A credit union in Kenya’s Meru County, Capital SACCO launched the program in 2021 under CDP/CECE to encourage more women to save, improve their financial literacy and strengthen their ability to access credit.

CDP/CECE also successfully created new regulations to support services for cooperatives, contributing to an enabling environment for the growth of Kenyan cooperatives. Because Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services developed under CDP/CECE were so successful, CDP/CESI will facilitate the expansion of ADR Desks to other counties and link them to a national tribunal. ADR has proven effective in resolving cooperative disputes outside of the courtroom, reducing cost and time compared to traditional legal processes. To date, in Nandi County alone, more than 50 cases have been solved amicably at the ADR Desk launched two years ago. Nandi County Executive Committee Member Dr. Kiplimo Araap Lagat said he no longer receives dispute resolution calls from cooperatives, thanks to the ADR Desk.

Daniel Marube, CEO at CAK, recognized NCBA CLUSA’s support under CDP/CECE in passing the Cooperative Policy and developing the Cooperative Bill, which is expected to be passed in the coming months. Patrick Kilemi, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of MSMEs and Cooperatives, emphasized the pivotal role cooperatives play in Kenya’s National Development Strategy. The new CDP/CESI will continue to support the passing of the Cooperative Bill and, once passed, will support the Ministry of MSMEs and Cooperatives as well as CAK to draft accompanying regulations, establish Federations (along each value chain) and restructure CAK to accommodate the new law.

Another CDP/CECE success was the development of the Cooperative Business School in Peru, Guatemala and the U.S., which was recognized by the InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) as the only Ag-tech focusing on capacity development for farmers in the Americas. Under CDP/CESI, in partnership with CAK, KSPC and other Kenyan co-op education stakeholders, NCBA CLUSA will expand this initiative to Kenya to serve the needs of Kenyan co-op stakeholders focusing on governance and digitalization.

Dr. Sifa Chiyoge, Regional Director for the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in Africa, said ICA Africa is eager to work with NCBA CLUSA to support Kenyan and Malagasy co-op stakeholders, mainly via peer learning between similar organizations in both countries and other countries in the region. NCBA CLUSA recently launched CDP/CESI in Madagascar.

Reacting to CDP/CECE’s achievements, Mr. Marube said he hopes millions more Kenyans join co-ops so they, too, can improve their livelihoods. With the launch of our new CDP project, NCBA CLUSA reaffirm its commitment to supporting the Kenyan co-op sector so that it can continue to grow beyond the 14,000+ co-ops and more than 15 million co-op members it currently serves.

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