I BELONG to a cooperative and the more I use its services, it is likely that I get to receive more patronage refund at the end of its fiscal year. This thing about cooperatives is based on the principle of owner economic participation and as far as I am concerned, it is one involvement that I have no regrets.
A cooperative is an autonomous and duly registered association of persons, with a common bond of interest, who have voluntarily joined together to achieve their social, economic and cultural needs and aspirations by making equitable contributions to the capital required, patronizing their products and services and accepting a fair share of risks and benefits of the undertaking in accordance with the universally accepted cooperative principles.
Before embarking on the cooperative bandwagon in the Philippines, one must also know that there is an office under the Office of the President called the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) that formulate, adopt and implement integrated and comprehensive plans and programs on cooperative development consistent with the development plans of the Government.
Established in the regions, the CDA develops and conducts management and training programs that provide cooperative members with entrepreneurial capabilities, managerial expertise, and technical skills required for the efficient operation of their cooperatives and inculcate in them the true spirit of cooperativism.
The CDA also support local government units, private sector and voluntary organizations by helping develop and promote cooperative movements that provide managerial and technical expertise.
As a coop member, it is important to know certain rules including the use of the term "cooperative" in an organization which means compliance to accepted cooperative principles, applicable cooperative laws, and is duly registered with the Cooperative Development Authority.
Aside from helping improve the quality of life of its members, the cooperative according to CDA aims to provide goods and services to its members to enable them to attain increased income, savings, investments, productivity, and purchasing power, and promote among themselves equitable distribution of net surplus through maximum utilization of economies of scale, cost-sharing and risk-sharing.
Accordingly, a cooperative is also meant to provide optimum social and economic benefits to its members, teach them efficient ways of doing things in a cooperative manner, propagate cooperative practices and new ideas in business and management and allow the lower income groups to increase their ownership in the wealth of the nation.
The CDA lists different types of cooperatives that falls under credit, consumer, producers, marketing, service, multi-purpose, advocacy, agrarian reform, bank, dairy, education, electric, financial service, fisherman, health services, housing, insurance, transport, water service, workers and others which are categorized under Primary, Secondary and Tertiary based on its memberships.
So, who are eligible to be a member of cooperatives? According to law, a cooperative has two kinds of members: regular members and associate members. A regular member is one who has complied with all the membership requirements and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership as stated in the Cooperative Code and the cooperative by laws and an associate member has no right to vote and be voted upon and is entitled only to such rights and privileges provided by the cooperative's by laws. As to the privileges of being with a legitimate cooperative, members shall enjoy the privilege of depositing their sealed cash boxes or containers, documents or any valuable papers in the safes of the municipal or city treasurers and other government offices free of charge.
Cooperatives and their federations, such as market vendor cooperatives, shall have preferential rights in management of public markets and/or lease of public market facilities, stall or spaces. Credit cooperatives and/or federations shall be entitled to loans, credit lines, re-discounting of their loan notes, and other eligible papers with the Development Bank of the Philippines, the Philippine National Bank, the Land Bank of the Philippines and other financial institutions except the Central Bank of the Philippines.
Cooperatives shall have the preferential right in the management of the canteen and other services related to the operation of the educational institution where they are employed. Further, housing agencies and government financial institutions shall according to law create a special window for financing housing projects undertaken by cooperatives with interest rates and terms better than those given for socialized housing projects. This financing shall be in the form of blanket loans to qualified cooperatives, without need for individual processing. There is more to the cooperative movement and for more information, visit the nearest CDA office to your place.