I listened to a testimony during a co-op gathering recently and it is really amazing how a co-op can contribute to the economic well-being of a person. This particular person is into the aggregates business. When he was starting, the banks failed to provide him the needed capital to jumpstart the business. He was referred to a co-op which lend him some amount sufficient enough to make the business work. According to him, he began with a mere tricycle to deliver customer’s orders. He now has six trucks. The banks are now courting him but he already gave his heart to the co-op. he said, the co-op was there when he was in need while the banks ignored him.
Improving the quality of life of every co-op member must be a priority of every co-operative. It is the reason for its existence. If you are an officer and you don’t know this, please read your Articles of Cooperation because it is written there. But don’t just read it. Put it in your heart. There is really no reason to organize a co-op if not for this objective.
I know that there are other stories of people like this. Unfortunately, they are not publicized. They are not even front page news if ever. The government’s campaign for inclusive growth and financial inclusion can trickle down to the grassroots level because of co-operatives. They are the answer to the needs of the “unbankable” sectors of society, the people who are not qualified to transact with banks because of the presumption that they cannot pay back their loans.
Another function of the co-ops is to empower people. Co-ops are supposed to be vehicles in promoting self-reliance and harnessing people power towards the attainment of economic development and social justice (Cooperative Code). When members become self-reliant and are empowered to make something about their economic lives, it would follow that their quality of live will begin to rise. In addition, an improvement of their lives, they will be self-sufficient and not waiting for government dole out.
The CDA should consider monitoring and measuring the economic growth of members not merely the number or registered co-ops because the growth of the co-operative should redound to the growth of its members.
Some co-ops would boast of becoming multi-millionaires. However, that is not an indication inclusive growth. There must be a way of knowing whether the lives of members improved or got worse by joining a co-operative. It would be quite unfair if the co-op is growing but the members are not.
It is therefore imperative to also evaluate what is happening to the lives of co-op members.
The CDA, as the regulating agency, should see to it that the co-ops are true to their objective of improving the lives of their members.