Stanley Charles Muchiri who rose through the cooperative career from humble coffee society clerk. Photo Kage Njoroge

A tribute to iconic cooperatives’ leader

By Kage Njoroge

Prominent cooperative industry leader, Stanley Charles Muchiri rose from a humble background to climb to the highest echelons of cooperatives leadership at the global arena.

 He joined the country’s cooperative sector at its formative stage in early years of independence and had witnessed it flourish to a competitive investment platform.

He passed on while on working tour at Abuja, Nigeria. He was presiding over an international cooperatives conference when he met his untimely death.  He was the vice-president of the International Cooperative Alliance and president for Africa region by the time he passed on.

He was born as Stanley Muchiri 72 years ago at Gakoigo village in Nginda, Maragua, Murang’a.

He enrolled for basic education at Maragua Primary School which was established by the Anglican Church to offer formal education to local African children in 1950s.

 His father Charles Ndonga was a traditional chief in charge of Gakoigo region during the colonial period.

Stanley Muchiri’s education was disrupted when his father was hanged by colonial administrators for conspiracy with MAU MAU fighters. He however managed to sit for Kenya African Primary Education (KAPE) examination in 1962.

Later, he enrolled for an elementary course in book keeping, accounts and typing at a Thika college.

 He quickly got a job as an untrained teacher and posted to Ikundu Primary School in 1964.

 A vacancy for accounts clerk and book keeper arose at Nginda Farmers’ Cooperative Society. Muchiri applied and was employed since he had the requisite professional training.

This was   the beginning   of what later became a long career for Muchiri in the cooperative sector from village accounts clerk to a   vice-president of the cooperative sector worldwide.

He later joined Murang’a Cooperative Union, where he rose to become the manager in charge of the then union’s Rural Banking Section (UBS) in 1974. This was a powerful managerial docket which controlled millions of shillings earned by the coffee farmers.

 In July  1974  due   to his excellent  performance,  the government  under a gazette notice number 2120 appointed  him   the General  Manager of the Murang’a Cooperative  Union with the responsibility of driving the coffee  and cooperative movement to prosperity.

To equip him with necessary skills, knowledge and competencies, Muchiri advanced his education by attending several programmes.

 In 1971 the Ministry of Cooperative Development gave him a full scholarship to study banking at the Cooperative College of Kenya. This   course  empowered  him  with a wealth   of knowledge    which enabled  him   to steer  the industry  to greater  heights  of  growth in the consumer community.

 The union further sponsored him to take a diploma in cooperative management in Turin, Italy. In 1982, he acquired a second diploma on establishment and management of agricultural cooperatives offered at university of Wisconsin- madison, USA.

In 1980 Muchiri’s leadership acumen boosted Murang’a Union to emerge the best district farmers’ cooperative   union in Africa.

 It registered over 100,000 small holder farmers in affiliate societies who were able to import agricultural inputs and produce huge volumes of coffee and other crops.

 He also participated   actively in establishment of many community projects in the country.

When he became the chairman of the Cooperative Bank, the institution was recording huge losses due to various managerial challenges.

 Muchiri   took over the bank in 2003 when it had registered financial loss amounting to over Sh2.3 billion.

 The bank’s CEO Gideon Muriuki, speaking during Muchiri’s burial disclosed that he left the chairmanship at a time the bank had raked in Sh17 billion in profits last year.

 “The bank had only Sh700, 000. Today, the asset portfolio has accumulated to Sh300 billion and an increasing number of account holders,” he said.

The new Co-op Bank chairman John Murugu points out that the institution has repositioned to be one of the most competitive indigenous banks in the country today.

 Other positions  he held in the cooperative  industry  include chairman  of Cooperative Alliance of Kenya, director Cooperative Insurance Company of Kenya, chairman Kenya Cooperative  Coffee Exporters Limited, chairman Co-op Holdings Cooperative Society  Limited, director KPCU, among others.

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