Business meetings of cooperatives provide the time to inform and be informed. It is the chance for members to listen to reports of officers and employees on the results of business operations. As owners of the enterprise, they need to know from the officers and staff the financial and non-financial information; contents of development plans and programs. It is a time for members to react on the said reports, express their sentiments and decide on matters important in the life of the organization.
In addition, business meetings cannot happen when there is no common time and place for cooperative members to meet. This brings us to the importance of Annual General Assembly Meetings for cooperatives and other forms of organization. Generally, the date, time and place of the general assembly are provided in the cooperative by-laws. The notice of meeting; required quorum; order of business; and voting system is outlined under the provisions of the by-laws usually under Article III-Administration. The different positions to be filled through election and appointment together with the qualifications and disqualifications are also provided in the by-laws.
Moreover, let us have a quick review on some complaints related to interest on share capital; patronage refund; investments not approved by the general assembly; real estate properties registered under the names of officers/staff; expenses incurred on trainings charge to other accounts; general manager being powerful than the Board of Directors; absence of committees/inactive committee members; absence of policies related to succession; unliquidated cash advances of officers and management staff; provisions of policies and by-laws not being followed; etc. I guess these issues are internal to the organization that can be discussed during the business meeting proper of cooperatives during assembly meetings. In case it cannot be resolved then they can approach their apex organizations be it union or federation and may seek CDA assistance to act as facilitators only when necessary.
Further, the Board of Directors of the cooperative specifically the Chairperson handles the business meeting of cooperatives. His knowledge on parliamentary procedure facilitates the swift resolution of issues and concerns. These can be in the form of question, suggestion, observation or recommendation but with his skill as a Chairperson he can expedite action either by directly addressing the issue or converting it into “motion” for discussion, approval or confirmation. The success of the business meeting often rest on the ability of the head of organization to use social intelligence to ensure active participation of all members, officers and staff in coming up with common solutions to issues and concerns raised during the activity. Officers and staff need to build smooth relations with all the members, actors and stakeholders. Greater satisfaction can be attained when they take part in the planning, implementation and evaluation of activities of the cooperative. However, we cannot evade the reality that there are members who dissent with majority members decisions. This calls for a design or strategy that can be employed by management.
Furthermore, aside from the presentation of reports of the Board of Directors, officers and committee reports; approval on the hiring of external auditor; presentation and approval of annual development plans and programs, it is important to report the Cooperative Annual Progress Report (CAPR) and its attachment that include the Audited Financial Statements (AFS); the List of Officers and Trainings Attended (LOTA) by officers, members and staff; Performance Audit Report (PAR) that includes Report on Conciliation and Mediation; Social Audit Report (SAR). Approval of these reports must be captured or documented to be reflected in the Minutes of Meeting. It must be explained to the members that all these reports have effects in the business operations and relationship of the cooperative with stakeholders. Briefly, we can say that the CAPR gives a comprehensive data or profile of the cooperative; AFS is the language of the business. It provides information as to the financial status of the cooperative. The LOTA shows who joined trainings and have the qualifications to run the business of the cooperative; the performance audit report measures the financial and non-financial aspects of cooperative operations; SAR provides information on relationship among the members and the cooperative relationship with community. Going into the details of these reports will help us understand their importance to the organization.
Finally, officers and management staff need to appreciate the positive effects of the various reports to the organization. It is highly encouraged that they shift their paradigm that these are CDA requirements. Instead, they must consider it as helpful tools for the growth and development of cooperatives. Vision, mission, goals and objectives must always be emphasized. Cooperatives must give priority to business meeting and have other activities as secondary in the identification of topics during general assembly meetings. After all, it is their business and others can observe how they run it.
P.S. The Mequin-Galvan clan would like to express our profound gratitude to all those friends and relatives who condoled with us and share their time during the wake; gave flowers and donations in kind; offered prayers; supported us financially, emotionally and physically in our time of grief. The passing away of Mr. Alejandro Mequin Galvan, Sr. (of North Sanitary Camp, Baguio City and Nancamaliran West, Urdaneta City) is a loss but it had shown us how compassion works in our midst. No words can truly define how grateful we are. Gratitude!