Working Paper No. 10 - Surviving liberalization : the cooperative movement in Kenya

CoopAFRICA Working Paper No. 10 - Series on the status of cooperative development in Africa

It is over a decade since the liberalization of the cooperative movement in Kenya, which sought to create commercially autonomous member-based cooperatives that would be democratically and professionally managed; self-controlled; and self-reliant business ventures. However, since then very little is documented and communicated about the unfolding status of the movement. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the current trends, structural organization and performance of cooperatives in Kenya. A quick appraisal of the situation reveals that cooperatives have largely survived the market forces and continued to grow in number, membership and income. The market forces have triggered a structural transformation that has seen the fading away of the inefficient cooperatives, including the National Federation and some cooperative unions, as primary cooperatives seek better service provision. Similarly, cooperatives are increasingly diversifying their activities and introducing innovative ventures in order to respond to their members’ needs. The well-adapted cooperatives are subsequently recording better performance than they did in the previous era.