In Kenya, farmers organize themselves in producer groups since the early 20th century. Around one fifth of the 47 million Kenyans are members in one or more of the around 23,000 co-operatives of the country. Co-operatives in Kenya come in all shapes and sizes ranging from micro Housing co-operatives to large scale savings- and credit unions. Yet the co-operative sector is mainly lacking two factors for far-reaching and sustainable economic success: Innovation and professionalism.
Thus, one focal point of our work is the introduction of new and innovative business ideas to the co-operative world.
DGRV’s project team in Kenya together with local project partners acknowledges the great potential co-operatives have to stabilise the local economy – particularly in locations where self-organisation is often the only way to economic participation. Over the past three years, DGRV Kenya helped to enable representatives of rural co-operatives to establish their own education centres, so called Co-operative Education Training and Information Centres (CETIC), in two regions.
CETICs are independent, member based organizations registered as co-operative unions that provide easy access to co-operative management trainings. Furthermore, they support their members in gaining sufficient professional capacities to be able to transform their co-operatives into viable businesses. Under the guidance of the centre’s staff, the member co-operatives are familiarised with new ideas for co-operative business management.
Recently, the project hosted a „Training of Trainers” that was developed to mentor younger people for enabling them to set-up well prepared co-operative business start-ups. This is especially relevant considering that unemployment of younger Kenyans is one of the big social economic challenges of the country. Further activities will follow with the group so that a new generation of CETIC trainers will gradually be build-up.
Fostering young people to become entrepreneurs is one important pillar in DGRV´s project work in Kenya in order to promote innovation processes in the co-operative sector. Whereas young Kenyans are stuffed with great business ideas and into trend setting all around the country, co-operatives are usually not identified as the type of enterprise of their choice. Keeping this in mind, DGRV´s approach is to couple the need for risk and resource sharing with the desire for economic independence of young people. To harness this potential, DGRV Kenya, alongside with its local project partners, will strongly promote co-operatives in the next three years to be acknowledged in new sectors, especially service industries, as an attractive alternative for young people to get into business
Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is hugely on the rise in Kenya. Naturally, the project work is impacted as well due to much reduced capacities in partner institutions but also for the sake of health and safety of staff members and project partners.
From the beginning of DGRV’s interventions in Kenya, the Co-operative University of Kenya (CUK) is one of our main national project partners. The University had to close both its campus sites since Covid-19 was reported in Kenya (March 2020). While the operations are still on hold, CUK currently implements a health and safety concept to allow students to take up their studies again in a safe environment by September 2020. In this regard, DGRV assisted CUK to equip their main campus with „Social distance reminders“ which were designed to demonstrate the need for keeping distance between one person and another. During that engagement 1200 m of corridor, class rooms, entrances and canteens have been covered with specially produced floor stickers to contribute to CUK’s reopening preparation later this year.
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