NAIROBI, Kenya (8/18/11)--Kenya is preparing to help the co-operative development model gather steam during 2012, which has been declared as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) by the United Nations. Cooperative and Marketing Minister Joseph Nyagah last week launched a steering committee on the celebration to help impress the importance of cooperatives as a sustainability model in alleviating poverty, reported TMCNet.com (Aug. 16). Recent global financial crisis and the collapse of the socialist-communism development model in the 1980s means the cooperative model could be an appropriate one to adopt, said Nyagah, who added that next year will assert the presence of cooperatives as a different development model in the world. Kenya is ranked seventh in the world and No. 1 in Africa on the size of its cooperative development by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the article said. The nation has about 12,000 cooperatives with about seven million members. The country's 4,020 Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) or credit unions have nearly four million members. By 2004, Kenya had a penetration rate of 11% of Saccos (credit unions), compared with 8% in Rwanda, 6% in Uganda, and less than 1% in South Africa and Tanzania. Kenya accounted for 60% of the savings portfolio in Africa, the article said. The IYC will officially begin on Oct. 31, 2011 when the U.N. Secretary General gives a speech before the United Nations General Assembly (News Now July 25). Recognition events will then extend throughout the remainder of 2011 and into 2012. The theme for the international year is "Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World." The Credit Union National Association and WOCCU have dovetailed that theme with this year's International Credit Union Day on Oct. 18, whose theme is "Credit Unions Build a Better World."