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Cooperatives in Kenya (then the Kenya Colony) were initially a phenomenon of the European planters, the firs organizational manifestation of which was the Kenya Farmers’ Association, established in 1919. In 1924 the Kenya cooperative Dairymen’s Union was established and in 1931 the first cooperative legislation passed. The Kenya Cooperative Creameries was established in the same year, and several years later (1937) the Kenya planters’ Cooperative Union come into being, rounding out the network of European cooperative involvement and control. The first indigenous African cooperative societies were established in 1945. They grew slowly in the years leading up to independence in 1963, when “Africanization” of the cooperative structure began. The Kenya National Federation of Cooperatives was established in 1964, followed by a new Cooperative Societies Act in 1966, the Cooperative College in 1967, and the Cooperative Bank in 1968. Responses to new economic opportunities opened up by such cooperative structures led to a rapid growth of the movement, sometimes outstripping its capacity to be effectively managed, but grow it did and diversify as well. Credit unions, first established in 1964 and encouraged by a promotional committee from 1965, quickly became the second main cooperative sector after agriculture. Therewere 639 registered cooperatives in 1963; by the end of 1973 these had increased to 2,184 and had a membership of more than 620,000. While not trouble-free and supervised by an often heavy-handed government bureaucratic structure, the Kenya movement has continued to grow and diversify, moving into consumer, fisheries, housing and industrial production, and service activities. In 1994 the ICA Regional Office for East, Central and Southern Africa reported that there were 5,691 cooperatives registered in Kenya with a membership of 2,641,000 in the following sectors: agriculture—2,430 cooperatives/with 1,484,000 members; consumer—127/21,000; fisheries—66/15,000; housing—227/47,000; savings and credit—2,470/ 1,027,000; and worker productive—86/31,000; and others—285/17,000. Cooperative membership was 9.9% of the population. ICA reported that in 1996 the total cooperative membership in Kenya was 2,700,430(10 % of the population).
Jack Shaffer, Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Lanham, Md., & London 1999

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