I wrote previously about a proposal for large co-operatives to help micro and small co-operatives in order for the latter to grow and develop and become a strong and vibrant organization. This is what they call the Big Brother – Small Brother Concept. This concept has been around for quite a while now. It was credited to a certain Ernest Coulter who founded the Big Brothers Movement in America in 1904. His intention was to recruit volunteers who will act as big brothers to young kids and mentoring them as they grow into adulthood.
The Co-operative movement had likewise adopted this concept and it is being recommended to the co-operatives under the principle of “Cooperation among Co-operatives”. Recognizing the soundness of this idea, other organizations incorporated it in their own respective programs. The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) had a similar program where a big time farmer helps a small time farmer. The Department of Labor also introduced this concept in their program where a big entrepreneur helps a small entrepreneur. Both agencies claimed this program gained considerable success.
Going back to the co-operatives, the policy of the State as stated in the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008 (RA 9520) is to foster the creation and growth of cooperatives as a practical vehicle for promoting self-reliance and harnessing people power towards the attainment of economic development and social justice. In consonance with this, the State encourages the private sector to undertake the actual formation and organization of cooperatives.
The situation of the co-operative sector in the Philippine setting has gone through a lot of frustrations, disappointments and failures. As a result, economic development and social justice at the grassroots level remains a distant dream by those who had originally envisioned it. In fairness to the present dispensation, there are co-ops that really hitched their wagon to the stars and are now experiencing tremendous economic growth. At present, there are 63 Billionaire Co-operatives out of more than 11 thousand co-operatives in the country with ACDI Multi-Purpose Co-operative as the biggest with an unprecedented 18 Billion Pesos in total asset.
While there are co-operatives that have gone exceptionally big, majority are still micro and small. Around 80 percent out of the total numbers of co-operatives in the country comprise this category of micro and small. This is a sad reality despite the series of government assistance to co-operatives one administration after another.
We are now looking at the possibility of addressing some government failures by institutionalizing the Big Brother – Small Brother concept. This will also be an answer to the snail-paced growth and development of co-operatives in the country. It is believed that the large co-operatives are capable and in position of mentoring the smaller co-ops for faster growth and development.
This kind of cooperation may usher in permanent solutions to the ills plaguing the co-operatives. I intend to introduce some suggestions on how to make this program work in the succeeding weeks and hoping for its acceptability from concerned co-operatives.