By Amoto Dennis.
Co-operatives in North Eastern Kenya have been urged to entice more youth to join the movement.
Community Owned Finance Initiative (COFI) Chief Executive, Salesio Njeru said young people were conspicuously missing out in savings and credit societies which charge lower interest rate on borrowed money as compared to commercial banks.
Njeru said there was urgent need to bring in youths into Saccos and to involve them in shaping their growth strategies.
He added that initial finding showed that youths were impatient with society’s style of engagement that require a member to over a period of time contribute monthly in share purchase before accessing loans.
The CEO said Co-operative societies in North Eastern counties of wajir, Garissa and Mandera, and Tana River in the Coast managed to realize slightly over Sh1 billion in turnover, which is a demonstration that the Co-operative movement was out of the woods, as a major driver of economic development.
“Exclusion of youth is evident nearly in all Saccos and that calls for a massive campaign to urge them join the movement,” Njeru said.
He added that membership rose to 17,000 in Saccos leading the way in helping members save, access loans, grow as well as purchase land among other items for development.
Urging the residents to embrace the culture of saving, Njeru identified women folk and youth as the two groups seemingly facing challenges in the conservative Co-operative movement in North Eastern Kenya. “Since youth and women face a challenge, Islamic compliant Sacco like COFI is determined to motivate and empower them,” said Njeru.
He added that with vast resources and Somalis natural entrepreneurship it was important to emulate regions like Mountain Kenya where the Co-op movement reigns supreme in economic growth and pumps about 33 per cent into the national economy with a membership of over 12,000 Saccos.
Njeru said since the Muslim community is shied off from taking loans due to ‘riba,’ (interest) which is against Islamic teaching many don’t access loans but the good news is that COFI is here for their taking.
“I take the chance to tell north-eastern youth not only to embrace Saccos but plunge into co-operative movement,” said Njeru.