Embracing Technological Advancements for Sustainable Cooperative Growth in Kenya

At the official launch of Afresa Sacco’s new office in Kisumu, Simon Chelugui, the Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives and Macro Small and Medium Development, recently emphasized that innovation and technology play a pivotal role in transforming Savings & Credit Cooperative Societies (Saccos) throughout Kenya. Represented by John Mwingala, he underscored that the integration of Information Technology (ICT) into their operations is not just necessary but crucial. This strategy enhances accessibility, an essential aspect, and promotes visibility, a key factor.

Chelugui implored Saccos to leverage ICT, believing that it would streamline operations and foster collaboration with other financial institutions. According to Chelugui, the ultimate goal is for cooperatives to play a significant role in poverty reduction, employment creation, and social integration, thus making services accessible to clients regardless of their location, he asserts.

Chelugui highlighted the vital role that the cooperative sector plays in driving Kenya’s socioeconomic development. He commended cooperatives for their historical significance since independence, underlining their contributions to diverse economy sectors such as aggregation, primary processing, transport, and marketing. He also emphasized their involvement in savings mobilization and promoting financial inclusion.

Expressing gratitude to Afresa Sacco for its resource mobilization efforts towards member empowerment, Chelugui hinted at forthcoming reforms in the cooperative sector. He emphasized that these initiatives hinge on Parliament passing both the Cooperative Bill and support bills. The proposed changes primarily target three areas: strengthening governance structures, boosting transparency levels, and streamlining agricultural produce aggregation processes.

Chelugui envisions a revitalization of productive value chains, aiming to enhance food security, amplify earnings, and attain a favorable balance in payments. He emphasizes ongoing reforms like the Cooperative Bill that target governance strengthening, as well as the Coffee Bill—an effort towards reinstating independence for farmer institutions such as Kenya’s Coffee Board and its Research Institute.

The minister underscored the significance of prudential guidelines and regulation: not only should Saccos with substantial deposits be overseen, but also those involving diaspora and digital operations through SASRA. His discourse included operationalization plans for both Sacco Central, a key service provider in Kenya’s cooperative sector, and Shared Services. He further vowed to bolster support for dairy farmers. Additionally, there was a proposal on hand – designating The New KPCU as an entity strategically handling coffee transactions at a large scale.

Encouraging Sacco boards to actively mobilize funds from their members as a primary finance source, Chelugui underscored the approach’s low-risk nature. He placed significant emphasis on two key points: firstly, that leaders must embrace innovative reforms; secondly, they should develop strategies driving cooperatives towards sustained economic growth.

Echoing a broader commitment to advancing Kenya’s socioeconomic development through cooperative empowerment, Chelugui calls for the embrace of technology and innovation as the cooperative sector stands on the brink of transformation. In this future landscape—promising not only transactional facilitation but also inclusivity, transparency, and resilience, it is clear that technology will play an integral role.

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