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State pledges to support SACCOs

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Co-operative and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Development, Simon Chelugui, has reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring SACCOs play a significant role in financial inclusion.

Speaking during the closing ceremony of the 9th Annual SACCO Leaders Convention in Mombasa, CS Chelugui said cooperatives have long been the backbone of financial inclusion, providing services to the unbanked, and fostering financial literacy and resilience.

“They also facilitate access to Affordable Housing and essential services, ensuring that no Kenyan is left behind in our journey towards progress. It is against this backdrop that the government has recognised cooperatives as key enablers of implementing the BETA Agenda,” said CS Chelugui.

A section of the delegates in attendance follow proceedings during the 9th SACCO leaders’ convention at the Whitesands Hotel, Mombasa. Photo bySadik Hassan

He noted that the government has instituted several legal amendments to streamline the cooperative sector, including the SACCO Societies Act, which aims at increasing short-term liquidity through inter-borrowing and access to central payment systems.

The amendments will also enhance confidence among SACCO members by establishing a Deposit Guarantee Fund, the CS said.

Another law that is a game changer, is the Cooperative Act, which will pave the way for the development of prudential regulations for startups and small SACCOs, that are not under the purview of the SACCO Societies Regulatory Authority (SASRA).

CS Chelugui noted that SACCOs would be stratified into tiers based on size and shall be subjected to segregated prudential standards, enforced by county governments.

“The National government will support counties in this role by developing standards and building their capacities through training,” he said.

Other key reforms targeting the SACCO sub-sector include bringing all cooperatives undertaking withdrawable deposits, under the SASRA regulatory framework.

“These measures are designed to ensure financial stability within the cooperative movement and the entire country. They will ensure that a shilling saved in a SACCO is as safe as one saved in a bank,” stated CS Chelugui.

The CS further said the government would support the productive sector through co-operatives and that various interventions were underway across various value chains, including dairy, cotton, coffee, the blue economy, mining, beef, and leather.

The efforts are being carried out in tandem with the establishment of an enabling policy and legal framework meant to foster growth and sustainability.

The CS hailed SACCO leaders for their commitment to driving sustainable development and fostering inclusive economic growth.

The government, he said, recognises the vital role played by co-operatives in improving the livelihoods of Kenyans.

“Cooperatives embody the spirit of unity and collaboration, bringing together individuals with common goals to achieve shared prosperity,” he stated, adding, that cooperatives have empowered Kenyans to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.

Acting Managing Director, Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO), Arnold Munene, encouraged SACCOs to adopt data-driven approaches to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“We also encouraged women to seek leadership positions within SACCOs and overcome fear and biases,” he said.

By Sadik Hassan

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