Co-operatives can make State’s Big Four Agenda a reality

Co-operatives societies are highly relevant and important in the realisation of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four development agenda.
Affordable housing is one item on the agenda that Uhuru has focused on in his final term in office. The others are manufacturing, universal healthcare and food security and nutrition.
If harnessed, the experience and capacity of co-operatives could provide a head start in the realisation of affordable housing and manufacturing as envisioned in the goals, given co-operative strength of millions of members from around the country and diaspora.
The broad argument is that co-operatives have the advantages of identifying economic opportunities for the poor; empowering the disadvantaged to defend their interests and to take part in decision-making concerning them; and providing security to the poor by allowing them to convert individual risks into collective risks.
It is in this regard that different types of co-operatives mediate the access of their members to assets that they utilise to earn a living.
Co-operatives are already present in all the areas that the proposed Big Four agenda envisage as the direction Kenya will take in its journey to make the legacy a reality.
The realisation of the Big Four agenda will most likely require the active participation of co-operatives and such participation needs to be elicited right at the point of formulating the goals.
For instance, savings and credit co-operatives (Saccos) facilitate their members’ access to financial capital, while housing co-operatives help members access the financing required to build homes.
Such services ultimately help members to improve their living conditions, thereby helping to pull some of them out of poverty.
Co-operatives ensure healthy lives by creating the infrastructure for delivering health care services; financing health care and providing home-based health care services to people living with HIV and Aids, among others.
The Government should recognise the role of co-operatives in the realisation of Big Four agenda by including co-operatives in the indicators, targets and funding mechanisms.
Co-operatives should be proactive by getting involved in discussions at all levels on the Big Four agenda in order to secure the opportunity to share their experiences on the realisation of the set goals.

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