Twelve years ago, I don’t even know what a co-operative is. It was so embarrassing but it’s true. But in those twelve long years, I have witnessed the gradual progress and transformation of co-operatives from obscurity to greatness. Today, co-operatives have gained popularity and credibility as a handful of them, at least in our region, achieved unprecedented milestones.
There was, at one time when co-ops were a laughing stock in the business world, a mediocre entity that doesn’t pose any serious competition to big business. What most people know back then is that co-ops is that which they can access a loan they do not intend to pay and expecting to get away with it anyway. This is one of the reasons why co-ops fail. We are only good at organizing but we are not good in sustaining what we started.
A lot has happened since then. We can no longer deny the emergence of multi-millionaire co-ops. In Baguio City alone there are six large co-ops having at least 100 million assets and one billionaire co-op. This is quite staggering as far as I am concerned.
I guess you all agree with me that this is a laughing matter no longer. These co-ops mean business. They are serious players ready to grab a big slice of the economy pie.
In fact, the biggest co-op in Abra is infusing vibrancy into the local economy. It blossomed into a trail blazing business enterprise. It has diversified and even expanded its operation outside the province. They were able to graduate from the typical co-op operation which is credit into a bank-like operation (savings and credit) with two (2) ATM’s in its premises for convenience and accessibility. It has a supermarket, apartment and a lodging house. The putting up of a co-op mall and housing for its members is actually in progress.
The good thing is that everybody notices what is going on. The politicians, the banks, and the businessmen are beginning to see the potential of co-ops. The co-ops are here to stay. I believe the level of awareness to the public will continue to arise and I hope that cooperativism will be the preferred business model in the near future. This could be the hope of the Filipinos in the realization of their Filipino dream.
These are some of the reasons why I never left the co-op sector after my immersion and I will probably remain even after retirement.