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Elders form a cooperative society for economic empowerment

Senior citizens are retiring and exiting active socio-economic activities by handing over the baton to the next generation.

At the age of 60, that is on retiring, most elders are left with a lot of time in their hands and risk boredom and a lackluster kind of lifestyle.

But some elders in Uasin Gishu County decided to form cooperative societies for economic empowerment and creating job opportunities for the youth.

Two groups comprising mostly the elderly members of society above the age of 60 years drawn from Ainabkoi and Kesses Sub-counties, have done great exploits through their economic empowerment projects operated under co-operative movement, making them an attraction to many and proving to the adage that old is gold.

Through their officials, Julius Sirma (chairman) and Secretary Macharia Nduti, 52 members of one of the groups, Olendu Elders Cooperative Society who are also village elders in Kesses approached the County government of Uasin Gishu for financing to set up a sawmilling plant and they got their first loan of Sh2.5 Million in 2016.

Since then, they have been running the sawmill and have been financed three times with over Sh6 million from the County Enterprise Development Fund to expand their business.

The Sexagenarians have since diversified from the sawmilling project and have started an agrovet shop, a tree nursery and are also engaged in environment protection.

To continue with the sawmilling project the members buy the trees from private farms for Sh5, 000 per ton. This follows the banning of logging in government-owned forests.

Another group, Kuona Mbele Cooperative Society with 200 members was formed with a focus on pyrethrum and groundnuts farming.

Members of Olendu Elder’s Cooperative Society outside their sawmill. Photo by Kiptanui Cherono

Society is currently also focusing on investing in setting up a milling plant for value addition. They bought the equipment after receiving a loan of Sh 4million from the county government.

According to their Vice-Chairperson Joseph Mburu and Marketing Officer Peter Kiprop, the members of Kuona Mbele are from the Kalenjin and Kikuyu communities who were affected during the 2007/8 post-election skirmishes.

They said they invested in a milling plant that can do 100 bags in a day and as soon as they install electricity, they will start producing flour of high quality from Burnt forest area.

Currently, Kuona Mbele Cooperative members are purchasing maize, beans, and wheat from farmers and selling them to the Kenya Cereals and Produce Board (KCPB), the World food program, and other buyers.

The Director County Enterprise Development fund Isaac Lagat said they will continue supporting the groups financially as well as through capacity building.

The two cooperatives have created job opportunities for youths and are urging youths to emulate them by forming cooperatives as an avenue of tackling poverty and creating food security, adding that the cooperative movement has the advantage of providing affordable finance, building local expertise and creating decent jobs.

By Kiptanui Cherono

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