By Our Reporter
Vihiga County has well over 95 registered co-operative societies based on agriculture and savings and credit co-operative societies (SACCOs), housing, handicraft, and transport services.
These co-operatives are distributed as follows: four dairy, five coffee, 57 savings and credit (Saccos), 12 housing, and 17 other co-operative societies based in the informal economic sector.
This data is contained in the Vihiga County Co-operatives Development Policy which runs between 2018-2021.
As at 31stJuly 2018, Sacco membership stood at 14,380 while share capital was at Ksh36, 608,766.
“The county government acknowledges that a genuine, autonomous and economically viable cooperative movement and its membership have a vast development potential; including the capacity to create employment through income-generating activities” said the report.
But the sector faces numerous challenges in the county that include; ownership structure, inadequate legislature and policy framework, resource constraints, poor performance of the agricultural sector and poor infrastructure among other things.
Although the membership of co-operative societies in Vihiga County has increased over the recent past, dormant membership and the absence of active participation of members in the management of these cooperatives have not only weakened them but also encouraged the dominance of vested interests causing bottlenecks that hinder service delivery to the members.
In a large number of cases, not only have elections and general meetings not been held regularly, but also the management of some co-operatives has been captured by a few elites. This state of affairs have created apathy among members towards the management and consequently destroyed the very core spirit of the democratic nature of co-operatives.