Sacco vs a Cooperative vs company

What is the difference between a SACCO vs a Cooperative Society if any? When should a group register one not the other?

When you form a group and are faced with the need to make a formal registration with the authorities, the decision is not always easy on what sort of entity you should register. If in doubt after it is best to consult a lawyer or a Certified Public Accountant.

In general, when two or more people are joined in some association or other in Kenya, then they are called a company. However, in common daily use, a company refers to a limited liability company. Hence the confusion in the company you keep. Moreover, different societies are registered differently in Kenya. For now, what are the different societies?

What is a SACCO Society?

A SACCO is Savings and Credit Cooperative Society registered under the Sacco societies act 2008. Saccos are managed by the SACCO SOCIETIES REGULATORY AUTHORITY. Ideally, members of a SACCO pool financial resources together and borrow from the pool according to the members’ shares. Since they take deposits from the members, they are regulated by various deposit protection laws and entities.

What is a Cooperative Society?

A cooperative society is a society registered under the Co-operative Societies Act Cap 490 Laws of Kenya. Cooperative societies are registered by the Commissioner of Cooperatives. In the case of a primary society, it must consist of at least ten individual persons and not other cooperative or legal entities.


An association or society is formed by a group of people to address a common issue affecting them. The association can include all players in the value chain such as producers, marketers, transporters, processors and consumers

Any society that is registerable under the Societies Act Laws of Kenya and includes any club, company, partnership or other association of ten or more persons, whatever its nature or object, established in Kenya or having its headquarters or chief place of business in Kenya must be registered by the Registrar of Societies under the Societies Act. An association is registered under the Societies Act if it does not include the following:

  • a company as defined by the Companies Act (Cap. 486)
  • a company registered as a foreign company under (Cap. 486)
  • any corporation incorporated by or under any other written law;
  • a registered trade union within the meaning of the Trade Unions Act (Cap. 233),
  • a company, firm, association or partnership consisting of not more than twenty persons, formed and maintained with a view to carrying on business for profit;
  • a cooperative society registered as such under any written law;
  • a school registered under the Education Act (Cap. 211
  • a building society as defined by the Building Societies Act (Cap. 489);
  • a bank licensed under the Banking Act (Cap. 488);
  • any international organization of which Kenya is a member of any branch, section or organ of any such organization;
  • any combination or association which the Minister may declare not to be a society.


Self-help groups are informal groups of people who come together to address their common problems. They are registered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection at least 10 members are required.

The basic requirements for registering a Chama are

  1. Minutes of a meeting resolving the registration.
  2. Register of members
  3. A constitution
  4. Names of three officials of the group (Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer).
  5. Ksh1000

Company Limited

Commonly companies refer incorporation of one or more persons or entities into a legal entity called a company. Companies can be limited by guarantees or shares

Business Name

A Business Name is a trade name registered by one person or a partnership to trade in. A business name is legally just another name of the owner.

see also

Can a court order a company to hold an AGM