NASA leader Raila Odinga has asked Kenyans to focus on economic development by putting more efforts on entrepreneurship.
He blamed mediocrity for slow development in Kenya.
“Its mediocrity in which the country was governed in the past that created our backwardness. Kenya was at par with Korea in terms of GDP, per capita income and industrialisation. Today Korea has developed 45 times than Kenya because of entrepreneurship,” Raila said.
He spoke at the Grand Royal Swiss Hotel in Kisumu during the Unaitas breakfast meeting on Monday.
“We must believe in ourselves and develop our country. Colonialism ended many years ago and its time we be committed to development activities,” he said.
The ODM leader added: “It is possible to do it like other nations. Kenya can do it. Africans can also do it like European countries.”
Raila, who launched the 25th branch of microloans lender Unaitas in Kisumu, asked people from Nyanza region to embrace saving culture and investment for income generations.
He said Unaitas will go along way in eradicating poverty amongst the people from Nyanza region through saving and investments.
Raila noted that Nyanza region has been undermined in terms of developments for many years by past regimes.
This, he said has contributed high poverty level in the region.
“It is therefore important for our people to buy shares in Unaitas. It will boost your income,” Raila added.
Unitas seeks to expand its customers and revenue base in the country.
Raila was accompanied by Kisumu Deputy Governor Mathews Owili, MPs Jared Okello (Nyando), Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), Fred Ouda (Kisumu Central), James Nyikal (Seme) and Kisumu county assembly speaker Onyango Oloo.
On Sunday, Raila hosted Unaitas board members for breakfast at his Opoda’s farm in Bondo, where investment in the region was discussed.
Unaitas public relations and customer care officer Sam Otieno said the branch has been operational for the last two months but will be officially launched today.
He said the launch coincides with the Sacco’s silver jubilee celebrations.
Otieno said more branches will be opened in Nyanza, Western, Eastern and the Coast regions.
“Our strategic plan is to open five branches annually. In this region, we target to open branches in Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kakamega and Busia,” he said.
He noted that the Sacco has a membership of 400,000 in Kenya, US, Asia and Europe.
“Actually, 16 per cent of our members are in the diaspora,” Otieno said.
“In Nyanza, we shall partner with local saccos to empower them financially. Fish farmers and fishermen who have been exploited by middlemen will benefit from our products.”
Otieno said a moratorium has already been deposited at the Central Bank of Kenya to transform the Sacco into a commercial bank.
Unaitas CEO Tony Mwangi said expansion plans are the result of increased demand for financial services.
Mwangi said there are more opportunities for devolution, urbanisation and a young population keen on entrepreneurship. Unaitas disbursed more than Sh2 billion in loans to 5,000 groups (chamas) last year.
Launched in 1993 to serve tea growers then known as the Murang’a Tea Growers, the financial institution changed the name to Muramati in 2007 and later rebranded to Unaitas in 2012.