The Director, ICA-Africa, Dr. Chiyoge B. Sifa
The Regional Director, We Effect, Mr. George Onyango
Invited Guest Speakers
Young Cooperative Entrepreneurs
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to stand here and address this forum of brilliant young Cooperative Entrepreneurs. Let me begin by thanking the International Cooperatives Alliance – Africa (ICA-Africa) for considering The Co-operative University of Kenya as the venue for this life-changing training. As the University’s Vice Chancellor, I am honoured to have this opportunity to speak about cooperative education in development as this is a matter that is close to my heart and is at the very core mandate of the University. Am happy to learn that this training is a scale-up of the Global Cooperative Entrepreneurs (GCE) which is part of the wider ICA-Africa and We Effect partnership aimed at promoting and strengthening cooperative development. We thank We Effect for supporting the programme which is in line with the 5th Cooperative principle on Education, Training and Innovation. Am also happy to report that CUK and We Effect have partnered in offering the Leadership for Change program. The 4th cohort of the programme had 135 participants of which 88 graduated on 21st November 2021. Am reliably informed that We Effect has agreed to renew the support for the programme.
Ladies and Gentlemen.
CUK has constantly played a central role in providing globally competitive quality cooperative education, training, outreach activities and capacity development to the cooperative sector. We pride ourselves as a centre of excellence for cooperative education, training and outreach in Kenya and beyond, and are positioned at a very critical position of facilitating the realization of Vision 2030 which, as we may all be aware, aims at transforming the country into a newly industrializing, middle-income country providing a high-quality life to all its citizens. In Kenya, the new government has identified Cooperatives and MSMEs as critical in implementing the Bottom Up agenda. Capacity building and training of these groups will therefore be critical in implementing the agenda and enabling the groups to properly utilize resources such as the Financial Inclusion Fund commonly known as the Hustlers Fund which was recently launched.
Following the call by the President on the implementation of the government’s Bottom Up Economic Transformation Agenda, in which Cooperatives and MSMEs will play a central role in the transformation, CUK has come up with a proposed project titled “Leveraging on Cooperative Advantage to Drive Bottom-Up Growth in Agricultural, Manufacturing and Service sectors in Kenya” [CADBUG Project], an initiative that is geared towards championing the implementation of the government Agenda by strengthening the co-operative and MSMEs sectors in terms of formalization, governance, financial management, value addition and marketing. These are key strategies that will be critical to the achievement of the Agenda. This shows that cooperative education is critical in development.
Director ICA-Africa, Ladies and Gentlemen
Within the continent, during the first decade of independence, many countries experienced tremendous growth on the back of a growing economy mainly due to agricultural cooperatives supporting agricultural production and exports. However, the cooperatives were soon plagued with many problems including poor leadership, financial mismanagement and disputes leading to the collapse of many and consequently economic decline of many countries. To revive these and to promote development in all sectors in the country and in the continent at large, quality cooperative education is paramount. This is because, as an entrepreneur, you need to gain leadership and decision-making skills for your team to succeed and your business as a cooperator to flourish. Conflict management skills are critical to running successful cooperative enterprises that in turn transform socio-economic development. This is critical as Cooperatives bring together a large number of individuals who may have diverse opinions. Acquisition of these very important skills relies on cooperative education which is an indispensable aspect of the problem-solving processes. It is also important to point out that success in the cooperative sector is pegged on employee engagement. It is immensely important to learn how to grow productive engagement with fellow cooperators in the endeavour to increase efficiency and the quality of output.
CUK, whose niche product is Cooperative Training, has been supporting the sector immensely over the years and is committed to continuing to do so, by offering practical solutions to challenges affecting the sector. To realize this responsibility, CUK has continued to establish strategic long-term partnerships and collaborations with players in the cooperative movement and continues to work closely with the Ministry of Co-operatives and MSME Development, We Effect, ICA – Africa, Co-operative Bank and all players in the cooperative family. It is important to note that the University has received a grant from the Cooperative Bank of Kenya of KES 30 Million to establish the CUK Innovation Hub which is envisioned as a hub where ideas, innovations and solutions for the challenges facing the cooperative movement will be harnessed and incubated.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, education plays a pivotal role in the country’s economic development. Therefore, young people who are upcoming entrepreneurs should tap into the opportunities presented by the education curriculum within our university, and other learning institutions in Kenya and beyond. The future of the African continent and global economic development lies in the competent education offered in our institution. I urge all of you to take up this opportunity and spearhead the growth of cooperative entrepreneurship. Truly, the future is in Co-operatives!
God Bless You! God Bless CUK!
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