Victoria fish co-operative transforming lives of members

By Gilbert Ochieng

Over 500 fish traders operating at beaches in Port Victoria namely Marenga, Mulukoba and Bukoma in Budalangi Constituency, Busia County owe their prosperity to Port Victoria Fresh Fish Co-operative Society Limited that has helped improve on their livelihood.

The co-operative society that was started in the year 2005 and registered the following year as a self-help group with a membership of only 25 transitioned into a fully-fledged Community Based Organization (CBO) in 2013.

Due the urge of the fishing community around the beaches to involve themselves with co-operative activities, the CBO membership has shot up from the initial number to 550.

The steady rise in numbers saw the members overwhelmingly resolve to transform the CBO into a Savings and Credits Co-operative Society (Sacco) under the Co-operative Society Act.

In an interview with the Sacco Review at Marenga beach in Port Victoria town, the Sacco Chairperson Emily Magio said the major objectives behind the formation of Port Victoria Fresh Fish Co-operative Society Limited were: to organize and promote the welfare and the economic interest of the members and promote orderly marketing of quality fish, therefor bringing about economic empowerment to members through job creation.

“Since its formation and eventual registration sixteen years down the line, the co-operative society that was started as self-help to our current membership we expect the number to shoot up in the near future,” said the co-operative society chairperson.

She said the members of Port Victoria Fresh Fish Co-operative Society Limited have every reason to wear a smile on their faces as there are unrivalled benefits they derive from the society.

“The members have no regret at all for the co-operative society has brought transformation through prompt payment of their produce hence enabling them to enjoy their hard earned money,” said Magio.

The co-operative society’s executive officer attributed the society’s sound capital base of Sh7 million to the members’ commitment to savings from the proceeds derived from the sale of their produce.

“Members’ commitment to saving money with the society has enabled us to reach up to Sh7 million in deposits. Every member holds 50 shares of Sh200 each with the dividends of the society being shared on a pro-rata basis,” she added.

The co-operative society’s vice chairman William Musumba on the other hand pinpointed challenges faced by members on the day to day operations of Port Victoria Fresh Fish Co-operative Society Limited.

The factors include lack of adequate working capital, dwindling fish stock in the lake, inter- border conflicts, climate change impacts, exploitation by the middlemen, importation of inferior and cheap stock of fish from the international community and lack of adequate market infrastructure.

“The co-operative society has actually transformed my life. Besides providing my family with basic requirements, it has enabled me to educate my children,” he added.

He concluded that the mission of the co-operative society is to be a market leader in fresh fish processing and distribution both locally and internationally.

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