Dynamics of cooperatives

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Cooperatives thrive because of various culture unified by the seven universally accepted cooperative principles. My exposure might not be enough but experience taught me to love cooperatives even if I am not that well-versed in all aspects.

Dealing with people from all walks of life is a challenging task especially for a person not trained at home to be articulate enough to put across a message. I might not be that articulate but I am still glad that some people still listen to our advocacies that cooperative is one option to introduce changes in the communities inhabited by people with diverse background.

Some people have been receptive of the idea in forming cooperatives that help members engage in various activities. Consumer cooperatives provide the needed goods and services for members within the community instead of going out to purchase household needs in the capital town or city. Cooperatives through the pooled resources of members manage to procure and offer goods and services at reasonable costs. Patronage of business is the key to successful consumers cooperative. One drawback of this type of cooperative is the tendency of some members to pole-vault and buy from private stores when they have cash. This happens especially when the location of the store is quite far from their residences or when they visit urban areas with establishments offering lower prices. In some instances, some members patronize the cooperative when they cannot manage to pay in cash purchases in other establishments. This practice needs attention from officers and staff to change mindsets of members on the short term benefits and focus on the sustainability of the enterprise to cater to the daily needs of everybody as they are the owners at the same time users. Hoping that the perspective of members on what benefit they can get from the cooperative will be changed to what can they do to improve cooperative business operation?

In the case of cooperatives with credit operations, the challenge is on the rate of interest imposed on savings deposit and loans. Current practices indicate that some cooperatives have higher interest rates on loans while others had revisited and revised their policies. Some cooperatives offer less than 1 percent per month with no filing fee and without or lesser service charge on loans to members. The greatest challenge is how to sustain loan releases without much delinquency. Keeping good borrowers and helping members with past due accounts repay sustain the trust of members on management and officers. In one interaction with a friend auditing several cooperatives in the Cordillera Region, he observed that 12% per annum interest rate on loan is somewhat an ideal practice.

As to other types of cooperatives, the challenge on business continuity exists. The emergence of transport cooperatives confronts all stakeholders in the process of the modernization program. Given the involvement of many government agencies in the registration and supervision of this type of cooperative cooperators need to comply and abide with the requirements of each agency. Agriculture cooperative deals with plants and animals and production, marketing, advocacy are integral part of the enterprise. This situation requires holistic approach; hence, knowledge on the dynamics of operation is a must. This requires enhanced technical skills of officers and staff.

Another challenge for cooperatives is when new members become officers or staffs and have limited information on the history of their own cooperative. When cooperatives attain success the struggles of previous members, officers and staff are not discussed or disclosed. It remains as information to those involved that sometimes affect relationships of Board and Management. The essence of recognizing the perseverance of people in laying the foundation and building the structure is sometimes neglected. Yet it should be a highlight in the life of every institution to remind everyone that the growth of the business passed thru various stages and not a product of miracles. However, when jealousy and greed precedes gratitude some people will do everything to cover facts and paint a new image in their favor. Obviously, the builders and architects fade away while the new stars shine with their own stories.

Finally, given the dynamics of cooperative operations and the different types of cooperatives existing in the country, each member and non-member need to understand the services offered by each type of cooperative. Cooperatives are enterprises owned by many people and the complexities cannot be easily addressed especially to those people that lack appreciation on the need for teamwork among the players in the organization. When members feel that their rights are violated they need to assert and find ways to create changes in the organization. Dynamism is not limited on the employee performance but applies to how officers, staff and members foster closer relationship that ensures clarity of purpose and aligned direction towards growth and development.