The Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Kuscco) was registered in 1973 to address problems facing Saccos and lobby relevant authorities and economic sectors to create a good environment for the societies. Kuscco’s services include provision of decent and affordable shelter through the housing fund, the inter- lending central finance programme and insurance services on loans and savings. The organisation has five regional offices serving Nairobi, Western (Kisumu), Rift Valley (Nakuru), Coast (Mombasa) and Mt Kenya (Embu), and nine branches at Eldoret, Kisii, Kakamega, Athi River, Nyeri, Meru, Thika, Kericho and Malindi. Some of its recent achievements include lobbying for the Sacco Act 2008, sensitising members to understand the import of the law and push- ing for the lowering of the Sacco Levy from 0.15 per cent to 0.1 per cent. They hope to have it removed altogether. Kuscco has helped improve corporate governance in Saccos, making the country feature among the World’s Credit Unions Group of 10. Kenya is currently ranked seventh in the world.
Co-operative Insurance Company
The CIC Insurance Group comprises CIC General Insurance, CIC Life Assurance and CIC Asset Management. The group is owned by 3,878 share- holders, majority of them cooperative societies, with Co-operative Insurance Society Limited (CIS) as its strategic shareholder with a 74.3 per cent stake and individual investors contributing the remaining 25.7 per cent. CIC was listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange in mid-2012 by introduction. The firm, which has been in operation for the past 33 years (for 20 years as Cooperative Insurance Services), is the market leader in providing insurance services to the cooperative movement and low-income market segments in Kenya. As a composite Insurance company offering a wide range of products, such as general insurance, life assurance, pension, medical and asset management services, CIC now occupies the second position in market share (as of 2012) in the local insurance industry. With the gross premium income growing to Kshs6.7 billion ($78.8 mil- lion) in 2011, up from Kshs4.6 billion ($54.2 million) in 2010 and 1.3 million clients, CIC ranks among the most successful insurance companies in Kenya and is the only thriving and surviving cooperative insurer in Africa. The company plans to expand operations to South Sudan, Rwanda, Malawi and Tanzania.
The firm’s assets rose to Kshs11.1 billion ($130.6 million) in 2011 from Kshs7.5 billion ($88.3 million) in 2010 and profit before tax grew by 30 per cent from Kshs605 million ($7.12 million) in 2010 to Kshs787 million ($9.3 million) in 2011. In the 2011, CIC posted a 65 per cent increase in shareholders’ funds to Kshs4.3 billion from Kshs2.6 billion the previous year. Liquid investments grew by 65 per cent also from Kshs3.5 billion (41.2 million) to Kshs5.8 billion ($68.24 million).
The troubled Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union (KPCU) could get a new lease of life after President Mwai Kibaki directed the ministries Co-operatives and Agriculture to come up with a revival plan. The announcement was made in September 2011 by the President on the basis of the renewed profitability of the coffee industry in Kenya. The directive by President Kibaki gave hope that the once-giant farmers union could stand tall again after going down on its knees under massive debts accumulated over the years.
Kenya Commercial Bank had placed KPCU under receivership in October 2009 over a Kshs644 million ($7.6 million) debt and appointed a receiver manager. KPCU’s assets are estimated at more than Kshs3 billion ($35.3 million). In the 2011/2012 financial year’s Budget, the government allocated Kshs2 billion ($23 million) to the coffee sector, part of which was to clear debts owed by KPCU and the balance for a debt waiver for several coffee societies.
While all these plans are underway, although little is known of the plans and strategy to have the giant coffee union back on its feet, several court battles might stand on its way.At the courts, KPCU is disputing the Ksh644 ($7.6 million) million debt, claiming its account was manipulated and had already paid Ksh1.5 billion ($17 million), and that it had been overcharged by Ksh192 million ($2 million). The union ceased processing coffee as farmers stopped delivering the produce fearing the disputes would tie up their funds, and the facilities have largely remained idle, with the private processors taking advantage to expand their business.
The Ministry of Cooperatives formed the Kenya Coffee Cooperative Exporters Organisation to take up the coffee marketing, mostly utilising the second window of direct sales. In 2012, the government indicated its intention for a complete takeover of KPCU in its quest to save it from auctioneers. Among matters under consideration was the structure to be adopted in case the government opted to take over the coffee farmers’ premier organisation. KPCU has dual registration; it is registered as a co-operative union under the Societies Act and as a limited liability company under the Companies Act, which coalesces several interests that have to be addressed before money is released by the government.
Cooperative Alliance of Kenya
The Cooperative Alliance of Kenya Limited (CAK), that brings together all cooperative societies and unions in Kenya, replaced the defunct Kenya National Federation of Cooperatives in 2009. Its two core functions are investment and lobbying on behalf of the movement. All registered Co-operative Societ ies in Kenya are eligible for member- ship of the Alliance. These include the National Cooperative Organisations and institutions (NACOs), such as the:
- Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd,
- Co-operative Insurance Company,
- Co-operative College of Kenya
- Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives (Kuscco)
- National Co-operative Housing Union (Nachu)
- Kenya Rural Sacco Societies Union(Kerussu)
- New Kenya Co-operative Creameries (New KCC)
- Kenya Co-operative Coffee Exporters
- Co-operative Development Information Centre (Codic).
- Kenya Planters Co-operative Union(KPCU)
Secondary and primary co-operative societies countrywide will be rep- resented in the 15-member governing council.
The Kenya Rural Savings and Credit Cooperatives Societies Union is the umbrella national cooperative organisation for rural Saccos.
Co-operative University College
One of the highlights of 2011 in the movement was the clear indication that the Co-operative College of Kenya could become a university, one of its kind in the world. As an initial step towards this achievement, the institution is to introduce post-graduate courses after being made a university college in what will feed the fast growing cooperative movement with executive talent.
President Mwai Kibaki granted the diploma- training school a constituent college status of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and directed that it be made a full-fledged university. This will allow Co-operative University College to offer advanced degree courses targeted at Saccos, which are evolving into financial institutions offering commercial banking services.
Over the years, Kenya’s cooperative movement has relied heavily on holders of diploma certificates to shepherd their operations, and Sasra reckons that time has come for the movement to tap star talent as its role in Kenya’s financial market becomes prominent. The Co-operative College of Kenya is the highest training institution for cooperative studies in the country.
For a long time now, cooperatives have been key drivers of investments in property, mainly by providing credit to Kenyans for affordable and decent housing. The National Co-operative Housing Union (NACHU) was registered in 1979 as the movement’s vehicle for providing affordable and decent housing to Kenyans in the low and modest income cadres.
Saccos own numerous prime proper- ties in various parts of the country. Among those that own buildings include Mwalimu Sacco, whose total assets are about Kshs17 billion ($200 million), Harambee Sacco Kshs14.6 billion ($171 million) and Afya Sacco Kshs7.5 billion ($88 million). The three giant Saccos each have buildings in Nairobi’s city centre. Most of the Saccos with branches in the counties have embarked on expansion to increase their market shares. Muramati Sacco and Murata Sacco, for instance, both with head- quarters in Murang’a County, opened branches in Nairobi in 2010. Recently, Othaya Farmers’ Coffee Co-operative Society sold more than 1,000 acres to Thika Greens City, a company establishing a satellite residential estate in Muranga County.
The Year 0f Co0peratives
To highlight the immense contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) in recognition of the impact of cooperatives on poverty reduction, employment creation and socio-economic development.
In Kenya, the IYC celebrations were launched in November, 2011. The IYC slogan is “Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World.” The slogan is evidence by the umbrella World Council of Credit Unions, which says over 49,000 credit unions are registered world wide, serving nearly 200 million members out of more than 800 million cooperators in about 100 countries. Addition- ally, it is believed that some 4,000 banks under the European Association of Cooperative Banks serve 150 mil- lion clients. Secondly, agricultural cooperatives account for 80 to 99 per cent of milk production in countries such as Norway, New Zealand and the United States and 71 per cent of fishery production in the Republic of Korea. In Brazil the figure is estimated at 40 per cent of agriculture. In Bangladesh, on the other hand, electricity generating cooperatives play a key role in rural areas as they serve nearly 30 million people. In the US, however, 900 rural electric- ity generating cooperatives serve 37 million people and own almost half of the electricity distribution lines in the country.
In the financial sector, cooperatives have been recorded to be the largest providers of micro-finance services to the poor. It is estimated that globally, financial cooperatives reach 78 million clients living on less than $2 (Sh170) per day. Traditionally, co-operatives are member-owned businesses and are autonomous, self-help organisations. This means that they are people-centred businesses.