Governor Jackson Mandago EGH on Sunday visited Olendu Elders Cooperatives Society Ltd Sawmill.
During the visit, the Governor was so impressed by the milestone Olendu elders Cooperatives Society Ltd (Sawmill) had achieved. He expressed the need for other elders in the county to form Cooperatives by coming together.
Olendu Elders Cooperative Society who are also village elders in Kesses Sub County approached the County Government of Uasin Gishu for financing to set up a sawmilling plant and got their first loan of Sh2.5 Million in 2016.
Since then, they have been running the sawmill, they have been financed three times with over Sh6 million from the County Enterprise Development Fund to expand their business.
The elders’ Cooperative has since diversified from the sawmilling project and has started an agro vet shop, a tree nursery, and is also engaged in environmental protection.
To continue with the sawmilling project, the members buy trees from private farms for an average of Sh5,000 per tree following the banning of logging in Government-owned forests.
The Society is currently also focusing on investing in setting up a milling plant for value addition. They bought the equipment after receiving a loan of Sh 4million from the county government of Uasin Gishu.
Speaking during the visit, Governor Mandago assured the elders that his administration will continue supporting the group and many others across the county financially, as well as through capacity building.
Recently the county Government handed over a tractor to the Elders’ Cooperatives society. Julius Sirma, the chair of Olendu Cooperative thanked the county government for the support they have so far received.
Olendu Elders Cooperative Society Ltd was registered in 2016 by serving village elders from Oleing’use location in Tarakwa Ward.
The idea of registering a cooperative was born after the village elders approached Governor Mandago seeking empowerment opportunities to support them economically and enable them operate smoothly as they carry out their village administration duties.
During the launch of the cooperative in October 2016, the cooperative requested financial support from the county, and under the guidance of the Governor, the cooperative accessed Ksh 2.5Million as a first loan to acquire a wood miser machine, and part of it was used as working capital.
The elders then started the journey of running a sawmill business in 2017 after the acquisition of the Wood-Mizer machine.
The business did well and the society serviced their loans well without failure until 2018 when they applied for a second loan of Ksh 3million. And in May 2019 to establish an Agrovet and expand their working capital. They also used the funds to acquire additional machines for value-adding timber products.
With increased business operations and a good loan repayment track record, the cooperative applied for 3rd loan in March 2021 to acquire a tractor and trailer. The Fund granted a loan of Ksh 5million and the elders acquired a fully loaded tractor.
Currently, the cooperative operates a Sawmill unit, an Agro vet, and a Tree nursery: all of which have led to the additional stable income stream to the society and members through dividends.
The society has employed over 18 employees leading to reduction of unemployment and dependence rate by cooperative members especially on their family members.
Other benefits that have come with the establishment of the cooperative include market for members of mature trees and Saw millers around the cooperative society have benefitted with the availability of the modern wood milling machines for lease while sawing their logs.
The cooperative is today ranked as one of the best, in terms of repayment of its loans.