Primary societies are engaged in a wide range of activities. There are seven broad categories although the list is not exhaustive, namely
1. agricultural cooperatives
2. savings and credit societies (SACCOs)
3. housing cooperatives
4. service cooperatives
5. industrial cooperatives
6. consumer cooperatives
7. multipurpose cooperatives
Agricultural cooperatives have continued to occupy the most important part of the cooperative movement in Kenya. They include farm purchase cooperatives and agricultural marketing cooperatives created to collect, process and market farm produce. Most farm purchase cooperatives were created immediately after independence to enable their members purchase farms owned by European settlers.
Agricultural cooperatives are formed to assist members with collection, processing, storage and sale of produce. They also assist members to obtain credit facilities, farm inputs and farm machinery which are normally arranged through cooperative unions. Many of them are involved in the production of crops
The saving and credit cooperatives (SACCOs)
A savings and credit society affords members an opportunity for saving regularly accumulating savings and thereby creating a pool from which they can borrow exclusively for production purposes at fair and reasonable rates of interests than would be obtained in financial institutions. Most SACCOs are found in urban areas among the salaried workers in the formal sector including government ministries, parastatals and other organizations. Members contributions are deducted from salaries on a regular basis and remitted to the society. Loan recoveries are similarly handled.
SACCOs popularity arises from their ability to lend money without demanding substantial security. Usually a member’s shares, coupled by a guarantee by society members are considered adequate security for a loan and loans attracts a low interest and a borrower may receive 3 to 4 times his shares and have 36 to 48 months to repay their loans.
SACCOs have also invested in projects such as building of office blocks and residential houses. Their other investment include hotels, warehouses and other commercial properties.
A housing cooperative society is formed in order to provide living accommodation for its members for fair and reasonable prices. It can also be created to lend money to its members to enable them to construct houses.
A service cooperative is created with the objective of providing a service, for example in insurance or transport. Thus a group of people who own matatus or buses and other conveyances can form a cooperative or a transport cooperative to ferry passengers and goods.
These are formed by persons who have special skills in the manufacture of or production of particular commodities who produce these commodities and the society arranges for purchase of materials, grading, transportation and marketing of the product.
Consumer cooperatives are formed to obtain and to supply to members articles of good quality for use of members, e.g. household goods. A society would normally establish a shop or shops where it sells the particular goods.
The multipurpose cooperatives
A multipurpose cooperative society is formed to carry out a wide range of activities. For example, it can be formed to supply farm implements, market produce of members, carrying out construction and to provide transport. The multiplicity of its activity would be reflected in the society’s bylaws.