Co-operative professionals and practitioners through their body the Kenya Society of Professional Cooperators (KSPC) have called upon the government through the State Department for Co-operatives to address the matter of timely data and information in cooperatives.
The practitioners have further recommended for the establishment of an information and document portal with links to various users.
The cooperative practitioners observed that it is not easy to get dependable data on various aspects of cooperatives including the number of active and dormant cooperatives, number of cooperatives in each county, number of cooperatives in each sector, total number of members, amount of savings, loans disbursed, asset levels and the contribution of cooperatives towards gross domestic product (GDP) amongst other data.
The forum, whose objective was to analyze the prevailing policy, legislative, regulatory and institutional framework on the cooperative sector, identify gaps and develop a policy advisory to the government, further noted that there exists various unauthenticated policy documents circulating in the internet hence causing confusion among the public who do not know which is the correct document and source.
KSPC acting Chief Executive Officer Symon Mburia said data is very important for planning and policy formulation.
“Without authentic and timely information it would be difficult to make suitable public decisions/policies,” said Mburia.
This is not the first time the professional body, whose mandate is to partly carry out continuous professional development on its members, is raising concern regarding the lack of documented history on Cooperatives.
In May last year, the Society noted that a lot of information on the industry is scattered or lost hence making the establishment of knowledge management system in the movement a challenge. It noted that many seasoned government officers, industry managers and leaders have retired or died with wealth of untapped knowledge.
The Society recommended the establishment of libraries and document repositories in all cooperative organisations to preserve the knowledge in the movement. It further called upon all cooperatives to set aside some space, either physical or virtual, where all important documentation including annual reports is preserved for future reference.
In their recent forum, the practitioners noted that there is very limited publications on cooperatives hence recommending that KSPC should document the philosophy and history of cooperatives in Kenya.
They further recommended a clear definition and documentation of cooperative business model, observing that Cooperative societies need to strike a balance between institutional interests and those of members.
“During the interaction with the practitioners, many emphasized on the need to grow the institution without regard for individual members’ growth. They therefore advocate for accumulation of institutional assets and maximization of profits in disregard of individual members’ personal development,” said Mburia in a dispatch to Sacco Review.
He added that conflicts have arisen since the original objective why members formed the cooperative in the first place was their own individual personal development.
The cooperative practitioners, who took time to examine the Constitution, Sessional Paper No 20 of 2020, the proposed cooperative bill, Legal Notice No 85 of 2021 and various other policy documents relating to cooperatives, further recommended that the Cooperative shares exchange should be regulated by Capital Markets Authority (CMA) since trading co-operative shares at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) using capitalistic commercial regulations might lead into distortions of the cooperative philosophy and operations.
“The sessional paper no 4 of 2020 provides for the establishment of a market for cooperative shares. The participants recommended that during implementation, a separate stock market dedicated for cooperative shares (Nairobi Cooperative Shares Exchange) should be established with trading rules designed to respect the cooperative philosophy,” said Mburia.
In order to achieve the objective and the spirit of the National Cooperative Policy of transforming the economy through cooperatives by developing and strengthening various value chains from the primary level to the national level, the practitioners noted that there is need to develop various policies for individual value chains.
To promote entrepreneurial skills in Cooperatives, the professionals observed that the Co-operatives, especially the producer-based cooperatives, seem to be stuck at the basic raw material production leaving the lucrative elements of processing and manufacturing and marketing to other players.
In order to facilitate cooperatives to break from this economic yoke, the participants recommend entrepreneurial capacity development for cooperatives.
By Roy Hezron
Kindly follow us via our social media pages on Facebook: Sacco Review Newspaper for timely update