Survey: co-ops to spur post pandemic growth

By Malachi Motano

Research conducted on the impact of the co-operative movement in Kenya has found that it will be a key factor in building back the economy in the post Covid-19 pandemic period.

The report further recommends that the sector should be included in Kenya’s national economic recovery programme.

The study conducted by the US Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC), says co-operatives also provide a ready vehicle to mobilise climate mitigation and adaptation strategies through knowledge transfer.

The study was published by the US Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) exploring co-operative difference in Kenya.

The evidence-based study says Kenyans who are already in cooperatives enjoy better economic conditions and greater social capital than the population as a whole.

It reveals that those in co-operatives are more likely to have average and above-average incomes compared to non-members

The survey that sampled of over 2,000 people across the country says 97% of respondents said joining cooperatives has improved their households’ financial situation.

Thirty-eight percent of co-operative members reported incomes of above Sh360,000, while only 21% of non-members reported incomes in that range.

More than a half of co-operative members (63%) interviewed said they had gained access to loans, savings, shares and commissions.

They said the money helped them diversify their income sources and supports them during financial hardships.

Ninety-one percent of those sampled both co-operative members and non-members, mentioned improved access to markets as a benefit of co-operative membership.

The survey also revealed that, while women are under-represented as co-operative members relative to their proportion of the population, 99% of women co-operative members believe that joining them positively influences their economic wellbeing

Women who belong to co-operatives also report higher earnings than women who are not members.

The benefits they listed include access to loans, markets, and better education for their children.

Majority of the respondents also said that co-operatives play a positive role in their local communities.

Seventy-eight percent of rural respondents and 80% of urban respondents affirmed co-operatives’ positive influence on their community’s quality of life improvements.

Members said they use their increased income to pay for school fees, purchase of uniform for their children, increasing their communities’ literacy levels and their families’ future earning potential.

In light of the findings OCDC reported that co-operatives can play a big role in fostering inclusive economic growth in countries around the world.

It called on governments to make co-operatives a policy priority to achieve broad-based inclusive economic growth.

The report is one of four national case studies – with the others focusing on Poland, Peru, and The Philippines.

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