The Kazi Mtaani Programme was launched in April 2020 to cushion the unemployed youth from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic across the 1450 wards in the country.Those recruited into the programme mainly engaged in menial jobs in urban areas. Though the programme was at times characterized by intermittent delays in payments, it went a long way in cushioning the youth against the economic hardships caused by the pandemic. However, President William Ruto scrapped off the programme on October 25, 2022 while launching the construction of low cost housing projects in Soweto, Kibra in Nairobi where he also said that the youth will henceforth be hired to construct low cost houses countrywide. His agenda is good though such decisions should need to be anchored on sound and sustainable policies and most importantly, the views of stakeholders should be sought.
When the Kazi Mtaani Programme was unveiled, I proposed that a ‘Worker Cooperatives’ should be formed and that support in terms of necessary tools of trade should be channeled through the same.I still feel strongly that in order to sustainably ring fence these labour-intensive jobs for the skilled youth, the relevant multi-sectoral authorities should:
a. Develop a database of the youth in the country containing among other things, their technical/vocational trainings
b. Group them into appropriate formal entities, preferably Worker Cooperatives
c. Integrate Cooperative Education and Training into the curriculum of all Technical & Vocational Colleges to enable the youth acquire knowledge on the operations of worker cooperatives.d. Progressively promote worker cooperatives across the country, especially to those who will be recruited into the construction of the low-cost houses
e. Ensure the worker cooperatives are registered so that they can benefit from the Hustler Fund in their corporate capacities. Cooperatives are by law allowed to borrow externally to further the objects anchored in their registered bylaws.
f. The bylaws of the worker cooperatives need to provide for a compulsory savings schemes for all their members. Through this, we’ll have sustainable institutions that can survive the vagaries of politics and other external forces and also promote the government agenda of promotion of domestic savingsg. In order to create harmony among these cooperatives, a Federation of Workers Cooperatives (Kenya Federation of Worker Cooperatives (KFoWC) can be registered at national level to oversee their operations leveraging on technology.
I strongly think that the President’s Hustler Agenda can best be actualized through formation of Worker Cooperatives that draw membership from majority of the unemployed youth. This reasoning is in tandem with the push by Hon.Maina Wanjigi, the Minister for Cooperative Development in the 80s, who championed the formation of Jua Kali cooperatives in urban areas.
Hon. Wanjigi, who also served as Kamukunji constituency MP, is the brainchild behind the acronym “Saccos” which were hitherto called “Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies”
In conclusion, stakeholders in the cooperative sector need to view the President’s progressive ideas through the prism of cooperatives! This will also ensure that the new Ministry of Cooperatives & MSMEs Development plays its rightful role in reinvigorating the economy under the prevailing circumstances. Worker cooperatives are the low-hanging fruit that cooperatives stakeholders need to run away with!
By Fred SitatiSitati is a respected consultant within the cooperative sector.
Kindly follow us via our social media pages on Facebook: Sacco Review Newspaper for timely update