The State Department for Co-operatives (SDC) was established in November 2016. Prior to this, it existed as a department under the then Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development. It was created under Executive Order No.1/2016. Co-operatives have played a significant role in socio-economic development of nations for centuries and are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility. It is against this background that the United Nations (UN) declared the year 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives. By the end of 2017, there were 22,344 registered co-operatives with an estimated membership of 14 million. These co-operatives are active in financial intermediation, agricultural produce marketing and processing as well as provision of decent and affordable shelter. Kenyan co-operatives are envisaged to promote green investments especially in such sectors as transport, housing, wholesale and retail trade.
The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Blue print (The 2020 Vision) anticipates co-operatives as a business model that will provide economic, social and environmental sustainability and be the fastest growing form of enterprise. Its five (5) pillars of participation, sustainability, identity, capital and legal framework drive this. The ICA Africa Co-operative Development Strategy 2017-2020 recognizes co-operatives as a critical vehicle towards poverty alleviation and development in Africa. As co-operatives in Africa strive to support human development, they face various challenges such as low human resource capacity, weak economic base, extensive financial dependency from external sources, lack of internal capacity and poor governance. The strategy recognizes the sector as having high potential for facilitating financial growth and can therefore be transformed to lead social and economic development in Africa. Co-operatives have the potential in facilitating green investments to support economic growth.