Cooperatives are a great asset to the attainment of sustainable development goals. They create an enabling environment for personal development and improvement of quality of life.
The 101ST Ushirika Day is now behind us, but we must continue acknowledging the role cooperatives have played as enablers of accelerated sustainable development.
Globally, cooperatives have contributed immensely to individual countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Therefore, no nation can underestimate how cooperatives have contributed to their economy.
In Kenya today, cooperatives account for up to 43 per cent of its GDP. Consequently, the government needs to appreciate the macroeconomic role they play and build better policies, laws and strategies to ensure a good operating environment for these member-owned enterprises.
Cooperatives have also contributed significantly to the quality of life by ensuring good markets for small scale agricultural produce and giving farmers a strong voice in the global supply chain.
As they continue to promote better and higher production, women, youth and other marginalized groups have been attracted to join cooperatives. Youth particularly have been hugely influential in the sector courtesy of their energy that has been tapped for a more vibrant agricultural economy.
Resultantly, job creation has ensured a reduction in poverty levels.
Cooperatives are therefore a great contributor to the public good.
Kenya as a nation has a lot it can pride in as the achievements made through cooperatives continue to create an environment for cooperatives to thrive.
The State Department of Cooperatives is the pillar upon which the cooperative business model is anchored. Equally, being a devolved function, county governments have their work cut out to nurture the sector.
Hence, they need to fully support cooperatives if indeed the development of their counties is at their heart. Policies and strategies that promote cooperative development must be formulated and implemented while purposely protecting the cooperative identity.
By Paul Ngugi Ruo
The writer is a police officer and a post graduate student at the Cooperative University of Kenya
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