Professor Esther N. Gicheru is the Director, Institute of Co-operative Development (ICD) at the Co-operative University of Kenya. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Development and Transformation from Cebu Doctors’ University (Philippines), a Masters in Co-operative Management and Organizational Development from Leicester University (UK), and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi (Kenya). She has a wealth of experience of over 40 years in the Cooperative sector spanning the Ministry of Co-operative Development and Marketing, where she served in various capacities for 12 years before she moved to the Co-operative College of Kenya. She served as the Principal of the Co-operative College of Kenya for 24 years prior to its elevation to University College in 2011. Prof. Gicheru has served the International Co-operative movement as a Member of the Global Board of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) in various capacities.
Cooperatives represent nearly half of Kenya’s GDP, and many Kenyans rely on co-ops for their livelihoods, financial services, and social safety net. Platform economies have also taken root there, from on-demand services familiar in the U.S. and Europe to innovations like the M-PESA mobile payment and micro-finance system. Can Kenya’s experience help lead the way to the cooperative movement of the future? Can global solidarity disrupt the Silicon Valley-centric shape of the tech sector today? This conversation will explore lessons in cooperation from East Africa, as well as strategies for ensuring that platform cooperativism brings about a more inclusive online economy than the one that currently prevails.