Call for cooperative assessment

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The COVID-19 pandemonium triggered initiatives of cooperatives to address the needs of members and communities. Cooperative preparedness in handling calamity that created business disruptions tested responses of cooperative management and officers. We owe the bold steps and calculated risks undertaken by management as some Board of Directors were obedient and law abiding citizens having quarantined themselves in their respective comfort zones. Thanks to cooperative influencers that started release of assistance to members and communities that inspired others to follow.

In cooperative operations, it is my observation that there are two scenarios being applied. One aspect is that management hands are sometimes tied especially for those cooperatives that adopt traditional approaches. The usual practice of BOD meeting and approval before implementation of approved policy. The other situation is that management is given the blanket authority to implement activities based on existing duly approved codified approving and signing authority. The Board of Directors then confirms the action taken by management in their ensuing BOD Meeting. The latter scenario is often observed among medium and large cooperatives.

In line with the experiences of cooperatives during this pandemic, I suggest that cooperatives need to assess their relevance. Guided by the Blueprint for Cooperative Decade, ICA, National and Local Government Unit issuances, Articles of Cooperation and bylaws, Approved Policies, Plans and Programs, evaluation of cooperative operations is timely.

Key Result Area (KRA) for assessment can start with the Vision, Mission and Goal statements. Are the statements aligned with local and international (cooperative) trends?

Second KRA is on the seven cooperative principles. To what extent had the cooperatives applied or implemented the principles? What practices were performed as proofs of its application? We know for a fact that the COVID 19 created positive response to help realize its existence as an organization and manifested compliance or action in relation to the 7th cooperative principle (concern for community). Some cooperatives used part of their statutory funds for members and the community. How about the other principles?

Third KRA is on the business operations. The question whether the cooperatives were ready to implement measures when business disruptions occurred put a test on the business continuity plan. Some questions that can be asked include: Was there a prepared BCP? Or were the actions done a quick response to the situation? If not for government imposed measures on business operations, were their plans to implement extension of payments of principal and or interests on loans of members? As to staffing, were their plans on skeleton (skeletal) work force and alternative measures on how to conduct BOD Meeting when physical appearance are restricted? What aspects need to be improved in terms of governance and management, financial management, human resource management, ethical standards, and information management?

Fourth KRA could focus on linkages/networks? Were policies on linkages with local and national agencies in place? Is the cooperative affiliated/accredited with local government units or line agencies? Are there existing Memorandum or Partnership Agreements? Are there policies on donations and grants from cooperative funds?

The above key result areas and questions were presented as guide and not to confuse or impose something to our readers. There could be better assessment tools. The suggestion might not be applicable to some as they have better ideas on how to do it? I know that there are other aspects not covered by the suggestions. It is up to our cooperative leaders to enhance and make it more comprehensive in scope.  The important thing is for our cooperatives to assess their performances and come up with re-entry plans that can further advance their role as instruments of social justice and economic development.

Again, thank you to all cooperatives that responded to our request on their status and activities during the ECQ period. Your reports had been included in the CDA-CAR consolidated reports.