How About Financial Stability During The Elections?

Are you looking for safe ways to invest your money in this electioneering period? Do you have some money you would like to channel into profitable savings for your future? If any of these questions is a ‘Yes’ to you, then walk with me as I address some ways SACCOs are beneficial in this period.

SACCOs, mean ‘Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society.’ It’s a financial institution that operates on principles such as openness, responsibility, care and honesty, identity, and cooperative values. SACCOs is, therefore, a self-help member-based institution, offering loans to its members through their savings.

Holding an estimation of more than Kshs1.1 billion in savings and assets (Anyika, E. (2020), SACCOs and cooperatives have been transforming lives in the past years, with teachers, doctors, and farmers being the primary beneficiaries. SACCO membership is currently open to anyone to join the institution in putting savings together to provide low-rate loans to each member.

Here are the benefits of being in SACCOs during this electioneering period coupled with challenging economic conditions. To begin with, you can take an emergency loan against your savings or guaranteed by other members (s), which is processed within a few minutes, a perfect way to avoid shylocks.

Secondly, SACCOs encourage you to save more and acquire high financial stability. Bearing that we’re still recovering from the global pandemic, this season will require more financial stamina, and you might spend uncontrollably. SACCOs will help you save consistently, even during this period, and pay interest on your savings.

Anyone who has been a member of SACCOs will tell you that it’s an undisputable investment that pays good dividends to the investors. These investments have more guaranteed returns than any other, where each member has savings. This savings assures you of a quick loan, both during and after this election period, for school fees, and developments.

Let me now address the saving charges and loan-associated expenditures. Unlike other financial institutions, there are little to no fees on your savings in SACCOs. They have constant loan rates of 12%, which has been proven to be far below bank rates at any time (Otwoko & Maina, 2021). There is undoubtedly no more time to wait; save in SACCOs now for your future.

Giving Visibility To Cooperatives

Shaping The Cooperative Sector’s Image

Over the last five years, many sectors in Kenya have been adapting to a recent shift that has seen many large, medium and small entities change how they do business. Policy changes have made more youth interested in being entrepreneurs and business owners and this has caused a rapid rise in the number of youth-led businesses. It is this growing market that is ripe for the picking as far as Cooperatives are concerned.

This tech-savvy crop of entrepreneurs and business owners are looking for solutions that are readily available within the Cooperatives movement. They are open to saving and securing financing through Saccos and are also more than willing to join collaborative spaces and unions that address their collective issues. Yet, very few of these new target markets are part of the Cooperatives movement. Instead, they opt to look for financial services in banks and collective representation in business hubs. Why is this?

Well, the reason is simple! This demographic is attracted by who is most visible and the attention they give to utilizing art, style, and creativity in their brands. This is what most banks and serious corporations have been utilizing recently to get these customers. Almost every major bank and corporate entity has rebranded in the last five years and some have gone the extra mile to set up youthful entities for their businesses that deviate from the primary serious corporate feel to a more appealing trendy side.

So, what can Cooperatives do to become more visible and attractive to the youthful target audiences that we are seeing today? They have to master the art of Trendiness. Youthful trends are colourful, suave, vibrant and energetic. They are unapologetically fashionable and free, creating an aura of complexity and fun. Any Cooperative that speaks this language is bound to attract its fair share of this new market.

The entire Cooperatives sector has to revamp its image. Any entity in this sector has to change its brand image and outlook to one that is trusted by a younger demographic. To do this, Cooperatives have to lose those old boring branding elements and embrace a vibrant and youthful look that tells young people, “We see you and we hear you!”

Therefore, Cooperatives have to ensure they are visible and attractive brands first since their branding is the first point of contact they have with customers.

Remaking Twitter & Becoming Elon Musk

In the just ended decade, big names in digital media ownership included Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Larry Page of Alphabet, Bill Gates of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. These among others in big-tech companies have shaped how information is organized and consumed around the world. They have also added impetus to conversations around data privacy, freedom of speech and e-commerce from their innovative applications such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Amazon that bring communities together. These companies have grown their shareholder’s equity majorly from advertisements and selling of data. Between 2011 and 2020, most of these companies were in their growth stages implementing subscription strategies and clearing barriers from governments to operate in different jurisdictions. From 2021, the oligopolistic big tech sector is witnessing change of strategies and business models from most of these companies. Facebook for instance rebranded to Meta in a bid to regain trust from the public on its commitment to uphold data protection laws and to offer better the experience of using its products.

Starting January 2022, a new kid has come to the block with a mission to democratize freedom of speech on social media and to make social media work for its users rather than for government policy makers and a few board members running the company. Elon Musk disclosed his 9% stake in twitter through a statutory filling with the US. Securities and Exchange Commission. This also implied that Elon Musk was the largest non-institutional shareholder of twitter and deserving a seat on twitters board. Musk however turned down an offer by twitter’s CEO Parag Agrawal to join the board. Since the start of April 2022, Elon Musk has publicly engaged twitter users on how they want twitter to function. He thinks twitter should not only depend on income from advertisement but also innovate to earn revenue.

Elon Musk’s strategy to take over twitter from public listing to private ownership is timed and fueled by his wealth and influence in corporate governance. With immense success in Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Starlink and OpenAI, Elon Musk who is currently the world’s wealthiest person has attracted trust from leading lenders like Morgan Stanley Bank in purchasing twitter shares at premiums as high as 38%. His negotiation skills and mastery of organization politics has earn him credits in convincing twitter board to lift “poison pill” defense strategies from his hostile takeover plan of twitter.

Worker Cooperatives, Answer To The Future

According to the Population and Census survey carried out in 2019, the data from the exercise revealed that individuals under the age of 35 comprised of 75 percent of the 47.6 million total population. The survey also indicated that the labor force aged 15 to 64 years, made up for 57 percent of the total population in Kenya, of which 29 percent comprised of the youth. This shows that youths have potential capabilities of shaking up the cooperative sector and leaving a footprint in the sand of the industry for other youths to follow.

A worker co-op is a form of co-operative where the members are employees, as the management is concentrated on the commercial aspect of the business, they focus on the social-economic aspect of the workers. Worker cooperatives can provide ways for organizing new forms of work with less dependence on the employer and increased flexibility and collaboration among workers (ILO). Members contribute funds to the cooperative and share ownership costs and liabilities that include but are not limited to risks of ownership. Worker cooperatives are similar to service cooperatives in the sense that, worker co-ops are a type of service co-op offering services to other businesses.

Through the lens of the unemployment rate among the youth in Kenya that was 7.17% as of 2019, worker cooperatives which are becoming embraced globally as an opportunity to take on the service based entrepreneurial journey becomes ideal for youths with start-ups.

In addition to the benefits that a worker co-op offers to a youth in Kenya is the creation of a workspace for them to combine their talents, ideas, and perspectives to achieve common goals such as creating jobs for other youths, performing community service, or promoting workplace democracy.

What makes it successful? Yet the key components that determine the success of worker cooperatives are trust, communication, and cooperation because members form the policies that dictate the cooperative’s daily and long-term operations. Therefore, the question that should really be lingering in the mind of the youth to answer for himself or herself is not whether to join a worker cooperative or not but rather, when he or she will join one.

Cooperatives In The Changing World

Over the years the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) has acted as the voice of cooperatives worldwide. Established in 1895, ICA represents an estimate of three million cooperatives. It’s a platform for cooperatives to collaborate more effectively through networking and exchange of ideas. ICA has its presence in Africa and the continental headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya.

A cooperative is a people-centered enterprise jointly owned and democratically controlled by and for its members (with a common bond) to realize their common economic, social, and cultural needs as well as aspirations. Even then, it is important to note that with changing times we have cooperative societies with an open bond (they might not be having the same background) but they have a common goal.

The bloodline of cooperatives is collaboration managed by its stakeholders who may include members, workers and associations. According to the world cooperative monitor, at least 12% of the world’s population are members of cooperatives. Labour statistics also indicate that cooperatives employ approximately 10% of the working population. The three hundred largest cooperatives mutual collectively generate $2.146 billion in revenue while providing the services and infrastructure that society requires to survive.

Poverty and food insecurity problems are better solved through cooperatives due to the strength in unity that comes with these movements. International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that about half of the world’s rural agricultural produce is sold through cooperative societies. This increases revenues and local expertise by creating and passing on business experience because they are run by and for local people. Profits are reinvested in the cooperative, the local community, or distributed to the cooperative’s members. Strong cooperative networks allow practitioners from all over the world to share their knowledge and best practices. Cooperatives are also pivotal in creating decent jobs. They employ about 100 million people worldwide, and 3 billion rely on them for their livelihood.

Providing low-cost financing credit unions and other financial cooperatives provide long-term financing to persons who are unable to access traditional banks. Credit unions offer a safe approach to savings and loans because they are run by and for people in the community, and they lend cautiously. Cooperative businesses are based on the philosophy of mutual help. They aren’t just about uplifting the members economically, but also morally and socially. Membership instills a spirit of independence, cooperation and tolerance.

Is Kitui Kenya’s Next Industrial Hub?

The MADE IN KENYA narrative that aims at producing goods locally is not possible without building industries to process and manufacture what we consume. This year in the devolution conference 2021, various counties had exhibition booths where they showcased produce from local industries with the aim of mobilizing support from partners and expanding markets for their locally made goods. For counties with something to showcase, the conference is a huge platform to let their local industries known. Kitui County is one of the counties that has a variety of locally made goods gaining market acceptance thanks to the devolution conference.

Kitui County through partnerships with private investors and other government agencies is shaping up to be Kenya’s next industrial hub outside of Nairobi metropolitan area and traditional white highland regions as mapped by the British colonial government. Two of the most prominent companies in the Kitui’s industrialization story are Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) and the Kitui Pharma Industry. Musyi Development and Tecnofin Limited have also formed a joint venture to construct 2,000 housing units in Kitui County. There are other investors who are developing interest in Kitui County thanks to a demonstrated commitment by the county’s leadership to promote industrialization in its rural and urban centers.

Industrialization in Kitui county cuts across from food and leather processing to construction and tourism. The county government is building a 30.9-acre Kalundu Eco Park in Kitui whose amenities will include a dry-land beach, a floating restaurant, kayaking and jet skiing. Some of the produce of Kitui County include locally brewed wines, honey, yogurt, fumigants, hand sanitizers, hand wash, methylated spirits, sporting balls and livestock products.

The making of an industrial hub requires huge investment into energy supply, capital goods such as machinery for processing raw materials, moving equipment such as trucks and conveyer belts, mobilization of skilled labour, availing raw materials for processing into consumable goods, infrastructural investment in factory buildings, internet and roads, a vibrant service sector to help in branding, banking and research and a sound policy environment to regulate production of goods. In devolving industrialization to counties, there is need for county governments to create enabling environments for factories to be set up through various policy, infrastructural and leadership interventions. Kitui County seems to have gotten this right but there is a huge room for improvement.

Clothe Making In Cotton Growing Districts Of Kenya

Cotton was once referred to as white gold in Western parts of Kenya where it was grown by many farmers. In the year 1985, national cotton production hit an all-time peak of 14,000 MT. This was however not to Kenya’s full production potential which is now estimated at 50,000 MT when some 350,000 ha of the country’s land is put under cotton growing. Production of cotton in Kenya has continued to fall for reasons such as liberalization of the sector and withdrawal of government from the provision of credit facilities, farm, and industrial inputs. The collapse of cotton prices both locally and in global markets has also led to thousands of cotton growers abandoning the crop.

Cotton ginneries play a key role in the value chain of cotton production. In Kenya, many farmers are far away from ginning companies resulting in the use of middlemen to collect cotton from farms for sale at the ginnery. Other ginning companies that had been established in the 60s and 70s collapsed due to political interference in the cotton sector and a fall in cotton production. Cotton farming in this decade and coming ones need to be re-organized through the union of farmers in cooperative movements and their cooperation with county governments to fix weaknesses in the value chain.

While a good number of counties in Western, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Eastern, and Coast regions form the cotton growing districts of Kenya, it is imperative to note that prices across all these zones are not good for the farmer. According to a study by Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (rebranded to KALRO); profit margins per hectare of cotton range from Kes.1,614 to Kes.12,520 with a buying price of Kes.20 to Kes.25 per Kg of cotton. This to a farmer with other options such as growing maize as a food crop appears to be a zero-sum game thus growing cotton becoming unattractive. The Ministry of Agriculture and the Cotton Development Authority (CODA) has a role to play in de-risking cotton production through extension services such as offering technical packages for pest control, mobilizing markets locally and abroad, mobilizing funding, and implementing integrated crop management strategies that have been crafted through research and previous practice of cotton production. Kenya can bank on cotton as a major cash crop that has the potential to revive the textile sector as well as other service sectors that fall in its value chain.

Is Kitui Kenya’s Next Industrial Hub?

The MADE IN KENYA narrative that aims at producing goods locally is not possible without building industries to process and manufacture what we consume. This year in the devolution conference 2021, various counties had exhibition booths where they showcased produce from local industries with the aim of mobilizing support from partners and expanding markets for their locally made goods. For counties with something to showcase, the conference is a huge platform to let their local industries known. Kitui County is one of the counties that has a variety of locally made goods gaining market acceptance thanks to the devolution conference.

Kitui County through partnerships with private investors and other government agencies is shaping up to be Kenya’s next industrial hub outside of Nairobi metropolitan area and traditional white highland regions as mapped by the British colonial government. Two of the most prominent companies in the Kitui’s industrialization story are Kitui County Textile Centre (Kicotec) and the Kitui Pharma Industry. Musyi Development and Tecnofin Limited have also formed a joint venture to construct 2,000 housing units in Kitui County. There are other investors who are developing interest in Kitui County thanks to a demonstrated commitment by the county’s leadership to promote industrialization in its rural and urban centers.

Industrialization in Kitui county cuts across from food and leather processing to construction and tourism. The county government is building a 30.9-acre Kalundu Eco Park in Kitui whose amenities will include a dry-land beach, a floating restaurant, kayaking and jet skiing. Some of the produce of Kitui County include locally brewed wines, honey, yogurt, fumigants, hand sanitizers, hand wash, methylated spirits, sporting balls and livestock products.

The making of an industrial hub requires huge investment into energy supply, capital goods such as machinery for processing raw materials, moving equipment such as trucks and conveyer belts, mobilization of skilled labour, availing raw materials for processing into consumable goods, infrastructural investment in factory buildings, internet and roads, a vibrant service sector to help in branding, banking and research and a sound policy environment to regulate production of goods. In devolving industrialization to counties, there is need for county governments to create enabling environments for factories to be set up through various policy, infrastructural and leadership interventions. Kitui County seems to have gotten this right but there is a huge room for improvement.

Topography Of Kenya’s New Media

Media has traditionally been a communication platform in diverse dimensions including advocacy, news sharing, entertainment, education, and awareness creation. Media Coverage in Kenya has grown with the increase in vernacular radio stations and the rise of social media since 2009. Today, social media has replaced radio as the first channel of information sharing and as the most widely used platform thanks to a mobile phone penetration rate of more than 70% and a high broadband subscription. Television broadcasting was hit by the digital migration of 2014 where content producers were allowed the latitude to air their production without necessarily owning a television station provided an agreement is reached between producers and broadcasters. A decrease in the circulation of newspapers since 2013 is also a trend that threatens print media despite being a stable revenue earner from the advertising business.

While social media uptake continues to spike in a country where the population mean is 20 years, the topography is not without obstacles. Among the obstacles that need to be addressed in social media are skills gaps among content producers, resource shortage in acquiring the right infrastructure and a policy gap to regulate the social media space which is highly infested by fake news, plagiarism, and incompetence. Other obstacles are little or no evidence-based research, forensic analysis, data-driven journalism, and excess attention on politics at the expense of other subjects like health, economy, culture and the environment.

Ownership of media in Kenya has continuously grown especially in seeing over 17,000 bloggers rise with prominent sites. Among these bloggers, at least a third of them are dependent on the enterprise for a living. Mainstream media ownership however is in the hands of few where HH Prince Karim Agha Khan, Moi’s family, S.K Macharia, Kenyatta’s family, Patrick Quarcoo, Late Chris Kirubi’s family, Raila Odinga and Wiliam Ruto are some of the leading shareholders in Kenya’s most prominent media houses. Kenya also hosts international media entities and is a regional bureau of top international news organizations. The big media houses are employing adaptive mechanisms to industry changes by integrating hybrid content production models for online audience advertisers. Media houses are pursuing newsroom convergence where journalists are required to be multi-skilled with thorough research competencies that meet multimedia needs. Technology is on constant upgrade across the media industry in Kenya as it is the greatest force shaping media execution.

An Overview Of Kenya’s Art Industry

Art is a rich sector with potential to create employment to many youths and women across all cultures. In this column I will highlight some of the prominent sub-sectors in art, possible returns at an average scale and rate at which opportunities for selling artwork come. The eight most prominent industries in the sector of art include; craft industry, performing arts, designer fashions, photography, music industry, interior design, visual art and film. Some of these sub-sectors are complex while others are simple and less sophisticated yet each has its unique dynamics.

In the music industry, an average musician in Kenya is likely to record music every six months, get a gig at least once a month and earn averagely Kes.50,000 per gig. The average musician is likely to use live performances and side hustles to make ends meet as recording alone may not generate sufficient revenues to sustain them. On the other hand, an interior designer takes about two assignments a month and charge a fee ranging from Kes.80,000 to Kes.300,000 per assignment. Most interior designers work freelance or get hired by real estate companies.

Visual artists work in small teams, they open studios and sell paintings at a fee ranging from Kes.500 to Kes.150,000. They participate in competitions and market their art work online. Similarly, film makers work in larger teams of about 30 to 300 people but take longer to release a production. Film making requires large investments and involves complex work. A project is likely to cost an average of Kes.1,500,000 and take seven to eighteen months producing. Photographers work freelance and get gigs almost weekly. They are prominent on instagram and earn between Kes.40,000 to Kes.80,000 per month. They show up in events, photo shoots and adventure safaris. Some own studios.

The craft industry is largely associated with women from rich cultural backgrounds in rural parts of the country. They work cooperatively in groups, they make objects of craft such as baskets and sell them at very low prices. Youths are prominent in fashion design where they run labels with a network of tailors for their designs. Their sales are highly dependent on seasons and rely heavily on social media to advertise. Product pricing depends on their brands and they like participating in competitions. Art is a large sector but not without challenges especially in mobilizing capital, remaining competitive and appropriately pricing products of art.

Rick Okinda                                          

The writer is a Certified Accountant working with small business owners to deliver business plans that serve their management and financial needs. | rickokinda@gmail.com