Time for co-operatives to engage more professionals

By Paul Ngugi Ruo

Human resource practices, both individual and organizational play an integral role in the growth or failure of any organization. It’s important to note that human actions are the greatest contributor towards any organization’s success and this is a key area that can’t be ignored in the cooperative sector.

In Kenya today we have had cooperatives that have excelled and some gone under due to factors related to human related omissions or commissions. In July last year the cooperative sector celebrated one hundred years of existence. A century is a long period that has seen cooperatives evolves from small organizations’ to large financial institutions that contribute immensely to the gross domestic product and which has had a significant influence on individual households.

Indeed today those who went to school in the seventies and eighties did so courtesy of a cooperative society.

Today it’s very unfortunate that most of those cooperatives have gone under and those surviving are in heavy debt burdens and a few diversified from their objectives and are still strong; the question is why?

It’s my strongest conviction that this has been contributed to a large extend by the management actions while other factors contribute just a small percentage. It’s the human capacity that contributes significantly in decisions that determine the route the cooperative society takes whether it ascends to greatness or it descends into bad books as failed cooperative.

Today I applaud the many cooperatives’ chief executive officers, board members and all workers who have contributed towards the success of the cooperative sector in Kenya.    In equal terms I stand to rebuke those who have been in the leadership of those cooperatives that have fallen and are redundant. You shall be judged harshly by history.

I applaud the persons who founded the cooperative learning institutions like the Cooperative University of Kenya which has ensured the cooperative business model is learnt and accepted in Kenya today. The formation of savings and credit regulatory authority has seen a rise in prudent cooperative management practices and the cooperatives’ membership growth of trust and confidence in their societies.

Human resource development requires development of ethical operational standards and regulations not because members do not trust but as a counter measure to safeguard and protect principles, moral and ethical standards of the sector involved, to ensure the human resource protect vigorously the uniqueness of the sector and promotes values governing the sector for better service in line with the sector goals and objectives. The cooperative sector is not an optional and it’s in the right time to ensure people in the cooperative sector understand the cooperative business model, its uniqueness should be highly protected i.e. focus on members empowerment or better services other than high profits or returns.

The registration of the Kenya society of professional cooperators is a great mile stone to ensure a vibrant cooperative movement in line with the international cooperative alliance statutes and principles. A time has come where this body needs to be empowered through legislation to guide its operations. We need it strong in order to ensure all cooperative workers understand the cooperative business model and also weed out quarks or individuals purporting to be cooperative consultants, CEOs who are more into better profits other than members’ interests, members who work in the cooperative sector just because they got an opportunity in the sector and all those in the sector for fraud and personal enrichment.

There is need for a thorough analysis of the human resource in the cooperative sector and cooperation between the national and county governments to engage skilled personnel in the sector and put in place adequate measures for all practitioners in the sector embrace its uniqueness and foster a conducive working environment.

 Like in other professions, a certificate from this body should be a requirement for one to work in the cooperative sector and county governments and SACCO Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA) should hence forth ensure employees in this sector have a practicing certificate.

The second century in the life span of cooperatives in Kenya should start by creating a formidable human resource in the cooperative sector.

Ruo is a police officer and Master of Cooperative Management student at the Cooperative University of Kenya

Not Allowed