Co-operatives in Post-Independence Kenya

The objectives that guide Kenya’s development agenda were first established in the Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965 on “African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya.” This paper promoted “Africanisation” in all spheres of the economy through political equality, social justice, human dignity including freedom of conscience, freedom from want, diseases and exploitation, equal opportunities; and high and growing per capita incomes, equitably distributed.

One of the outcomes of the Sessional No. 10 of 1965 was the enactment of the Co-operative Societies Act No. 39 of 1966. This accelerated the formation of co-operatives that facilitated the transfer of land to indigenous Kenyans, marketing of agricultural produce, and formation of financial institutions to support the co-operative movement.

Session Paper No. 1 of 1970 was the first co-operative development policy, in which government sought to consolidate the gains made in the co-operative movement.  The policy was reviewed in 1975 when the government specifically recognised the importance of co-operatives as vital organs for mobilizing material, human, and financial resources for national development. It reiterated the government’s commitment to expanding co-operative activities in all spheres of social and economic development. A key milestone at this stage was the establishment of the Ministry of Co-operative Development.

The second co-operative policy was Sessional Paper No. 4 of 1987, whose theme was “Renewed Growth through the Co-operative Movement”. This policy reiterated the commitment of the government in enhancing the participation of Kenyans in the economy through co-operatives. The government recognized the private nature of co-operatives and adopted an advisory role.

Sessional Paper No. 6 of 1997 on “Co-operatives in a Liberalised Economic Environment” was the third co-operative policy. In this policy, the Government reviewed its involvement in the management of co-operatives and provided a legislative framework under which co-operatives could operate in a competitive economic environment. This led to the enactment of the Co-operative Societies Act No. 12 of 1997 that gave greater powers to the members of the co-operative movement. The Act was however amended in 2004, to restore some powers to the government to intervene in the management of co-operatives when necessary. In addition, the rapid growth of financial co-operatives offering front office services necessitated the enactment of the Sacco Societies Act of 2008 to regulate savings and credit co-operatives.

Last Update: November 9, 2021
November 9, 2021 916 adminCo-operatives
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