Eldoret, Kenya – In a pivotal conference held in Eldoret, Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui outlined the significance of cooperatives and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in driving sustainable development and empowering women and young people across Kenya.
According to Kenya News Agency, Chelugui, while addressing attendees at the ‘Women in MSMEs and Cooperatives Conference,’ highlighted the substantial contributions of women in the nation’s economic development and societal progression. He emphasized their integral part in realizing the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) and motivated them to engage in the government’s initiatives aimed at revitalizing key sectors such as coffee, tea, and dairy.
In a bid to support these sectors, the government plans to invest 500 million shillings in the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) in Eldoret, focusing on instant milk processing and packaging for export, which also includes the provision of 25 new milk coolers.
The government has also taken steps to enhance the coffee industry by subsidizing rates at 80 shillings per kilogram. Chelugui confirmed the ministry’s commitment to partnering with county governments to furnish cooperatives, Saccos, and MSMEs with conducive environments for growth.
Uasin Gishu governor Jonathan Bii recognized the collaboration with government entities in supporting women through various empowerment initiatives. He accentuated the opportunities for women in business, both locally and globally, and called for creating a unique competitive edge in the market.
Bii provided insights into the county’s cooperative sector, which boasts 775 registered cooperatives, over 120,000 members, accumulated deposits of 2.3 billion shillings, and an asset base of 5.8 billion shillings. With a turnover of 1.8 billion shillings last fiscal year, the cooperatives are a substantial economic force.
Plans for capacity building, cooperative revival, value addition, and infrastructure development are in place, along with compliance with the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO). The governor also mentioned affordable financing options targeting MSMEs through the County Inua Biashara Fund.
Bii stressed the importance of reliable financing for women entrepreneurs and the various funds available, including those that focus on cooperatives and Saccos. He acknowledged Chelugui’s efforts in the disbursement of the Hustler Fund, which has allocated more than 30 billion shillings, supporting women in business within the county with 52.5 million shillings.
The residents of Uasin Gishu county are among the top borrowers of the Hustler Fund, indicating a strong commitment to financial inclusion. Bii concluded by recognizing the challenges women face, such as gender inequality and cultural barriers, advocating for continued support through resources and opportunities.