Housing cooperatives in Kenya are represented by NACHU, the National Cooperative Housing Union. NACHU was registered in 1979 under the Cooperative Societies Act (Cap 490), became operational in 1983 and held its first democratic election in 1986.
NACHU was initially established to provide technical services and small housing loans for trade union members. The broader coop movement, some churches and NGOs also helped start NACHU. NACHU struggled for some years due to a difficult policy context and political interference. Its early growth and development was assisted by CHF International (US), Rooftops Canada, and the Ford Foundation.
NACHU’s primary objective is to provide affordable and decent housing and infrastructure to the urban low and modest-income communities. But NACHU’s approach goes beyond just housing. It includes: community mobilization (youth, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS) and training; technical support services; housing finance; lobbying and advocacy.
NACHU works at improving the quality of life of cooperative housing members in different ways. NACHU’s approach includes working with informal settlements, conventional housing and commercial projects. This approach has allowed NACHU to cross-subsidize the development of its low-income projects.
It is governed by a nine member board of directors. Seven seats are reserved for the provinces where NACHU is working and up to three seats are elected by the AGM to improve gender balance on the Board. NACHU has 27 employees in total with eight employees on its Housing Micro Finance team. NACHU draws its membership from: low and modest-income people in formal employment, rural cooperatives associated with agricultural marketing cooperatives, middle-income earners and, informal settlement dwellers who often are self-employed and have irregular incomes. Members pay a non-refundable entry fee and buy refundable shares. Members do not pay ongoing membership fees. In 2012, 493 housing cooperatives of the 550 registered were participating in NACHU Housing Scheme, representing 11,708 individuals. 84% were low-income earners and 16% modest-income.
NACHU has counted on external funders and partners to help finance its operational costs and capitalize its revolving funds. Without these organizations, progress would have been much slower. NACHU’s partners have been and are: Rooftops Canada, Homeless International, CHF International (now Global Communities), Ford Foundation, USAID (Housing Guarantee Fund), NORAD and NBBL (Norway), Swedish Cooperative Center (now We Effect), SACOMA (UK).
Find out more about housing cooperatives in Kenya here.
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