By Benedicto Ng’etich
Kericho County Director of Cooperatives Leonard Otii has advised Saccos affiliated to giant multinationals to device other means of survival in the face of dwindling membership.
Otii expressed fear over the survival of the societies after the parent companies started early retirements of employees due to what has been seen as the negative effects of massive mechanization of tea harvesting.
Mechanization of tea harvesting has been on-going in Kericho and Bomet counties; this is despite resistance from the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union and Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU).
Besides job cuts already businesses in the regions’ several trading centres are witnessing reduced business activities.
Otii said several multinational affiliated Saccos were undergoing serious challenges, which might see drastic shift in business operations or risk closure.
According to the Chairman of Simba Chai Sacco, Engineer Joseph Mitei the societies need to change tact to survive the challenges.
He said: “The changes in the parent company have led to many people being pushed out of their jobs. This has had impact in our financial position in terms of loans and deposits.”
Last year, the Sacco witnessed a drop in membership from 14,841 as at the end of the year 2016 to 14,390 in 2018.
The Sacco thus expanded its common bond to attract a wide section of members of the public.
Catherine Kivai, finance director at James Finlays Tea Company, challenged the societies not to depend on tea workers but be innovative in developing other ways of attracting new members from the outside the estates.
She was addressing Ndege Chai Housing Cooperative delegates during their annual meeting.