The Co-operative revolution

This article was written by James Wanzala August 6th 2014. I have edited it slightly to distinguish between investment co-operatives, housing co-operatives and a savings and credit co-operatives (Saccos). Many journalists confuse these types of co-operatives to them Saccos cover all types of co-operatives.

BY JAMES WANZALA Updated Wednesday, August 6th 2014 at 16:35 GMT +3
As industry players try to come up with various ways to address the high housing shortage in the country, Co-operatives are emerging as important stakeholders in housing provision. Currently, it is estimated that Kenya has an annual housing deficit of 200,000 units, with only 50,000 being constructed per year. Although still difficult to quantify, co-operatives are contributing significantly to the 50,000 units offloaded onto the market annually. While some of them are constructing houses for members at subsidised prices, a number of them are helping members to buy land to put up their own houses. Over the last few years, several co-operatives have come to be associated with the real estate sector in a big way. Below are some of the notable names shaking the sector:

Urithi Housing Co-operative

Urithi Housing Co-operative Society Ltd (UHCSL) is registered with the Ministry of Industrialisation and Enterprise Development “to address the housing challenges caused by the global recession that has constantly put a strain on majority to own assets like land and houses”. The co-operative acquires land at a low price and passes on the subsidised cost to the members. The profits realised from the sales to non-members is ploughed back to be earned by the members as dividends or/and value addition activities on the land. Urithi, Swahili word for inheritance, serves those who want to invest for the future, thereby giving inheritance to oneself as retirement package or to loved ones like spouses and children hence the slogan “Buy and Wait, Don’t Wait and Buy”. The objective of the co-operative is to help members get accommodation and live in a better environment where they also enjoy ancillary service such as roads, drainage, water and lighting at a reasonable price. Another objective is to provide facilities for physical and cultural recreation “and all such other matters as are usual, customary and desirous for building estates, blocks of flats or single dwellings”.
Some of its projects are Own-A-Room, Nakuru Olive Courts House and Kitengela Olive Ostrich. Own-A-Room is currently ongoing and will be completed by February 2015, with 308 investors benefiting from the studio houses being built.

Safaricom Investment Co-operative (SIC)

The co-operative was set up in February 2009, with less than 200 members, and a capital base of Sh 2 million. By last year, the co-operative was boasting of 1,400 members and a Sh308 million capital base. The co-operative was born out of the need by Safaricom staff to have a reliable channel through which they could pursue investments and acquire assets. In May last year, the co-operative launched the Blue Bells Garden Housing project in Mlolongo, its pioneer housing project. The Sh1 billion housing project is being put up on five hectares and will comprise 300 units – a mix of two- and three-bedroom units – to be built in two phases. The first phase will have 160 units while the second phase shall have 140 units. Enclosed within a gated community, the estate will provide spacious units with adequate spaces both within and outside, a recreational area where occupants will be able to relax, a playground for the children as well as a calm, conducive environment away from the city’s hustle and bustle. More than 50 per cent of the units have been sold off plan.

Airport Housing Co-operative Society

Airport Housing Co-operative Society was formed in 2007, with its registered offices being at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The society has grown through the years and has over 500 active members and is still growing. Ninety nine per cent of its members are employees of the Kenya Airports Authority. Three hundred members of Airport Housing Co-operative Society Limited are set to build their own houses on 100-acre scheme in Kaputiei in Isinya, Kajiado County, and more schemes are on the way. Currently, its two projects are Malindi and Katani, which involve selling parcels of land to members. The society hasn’t started building houses yet, but it finances housing projects and is looking forward to start building houses and selling them at reasonable prices, according to vice-chairman Rodgers Manana. In this arrangement, members develop their own plots under controlled scheme. The society plans to have a presence in all the 47 counties.

Kamuthi Housing Co-operative

Kamuthi Housing has been buying large tracts of land in prime areas on the outskirts of Nairobi and selling to members who put up their own houses. This co-operative was originally called Kahawa Farmers Co-operative Society. It was registered in 1964 with the aim of purchasing land from a colonial settler. The land was located off Kamiti Road between Githurai 44 and present-day Kahawa West Estate.
One of its well-known housing projects is the Sh1.8 billion Buffalo Hills Leisure and Golf Village in Kilimambogo, Kiambu County. Co-operative members have bought land in the project with the aim of putting up their own houses.
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One Response

  1. Reblogged this on Kenya Co-operative Movement.

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