Promoting Cooperative Entrepreneurship among Youth in Kenya: a Challenge for the Future

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By Tindi Sitati and Stephine Ogutu

Democratic control and participation, shared ownership, autonomy and independence are some of the fundamental principles that youth and cooperatives share. To go deeper into this discussion about how cooperative enterprises can work for young people, Enabling Market Integration for Rural Group Empowerment (EMIRGE) Kenya, funded by USAID, in partnership with PAWA254 organised the event ‘Youth Venturing into the Cooperatives Business Model” on August 17th, 2018, in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The cooperative model can empower young people as employers and employees” said EMIRGE – Kenya Country Lead, Mark Matabi who insisted on the need for youth “to have the information about the cooperative model available to them” and called upon a better integration of cooperatives into learning systems.

A key observation during the discussion was the concern around taxation, that participants hoped the new business model can ease the taxation burden in one way or the other. A study conducted in 2016 by the Agha Khan University stated that young people had no qualms about evading taxes, only 40% polled believed that it was important to pay taxes. During the forum participants were enlightened to learn that in a cooperative business model, taxation cannot be evaded but can be avoided.

 Speaking during the forum, Alfred Ogola, chair of Brand Ambassadors Marketing Cooperative, shared how the cooperative model is providing a promising future for members in terms of business opportunities. “For us, cooperatives are a practical way to tackle the urgent social and economic problems that our generation faces. We are able to transform the daily reality of work for young people and to help build a more equal, democratic and sustainable economy.” He added. “I am hopeful for a time when more young people will look to cooperatives for income opportunities than spend years looking for white-collar jobs.”

Mbuki Mburu, the civic engagement officer at PAWA254 said: “We are proud of this initiative: we are convinced that having more young people learning about cooperatives and going further to form worker cooperatives will be beneficial for the whole Kenyan economy. We welcome the attention that EMIRGE –Kenya is providing to this issue and we are committed to continue this work”.


Click here to view photos from the event.