|THE DEVELOPMENT ADVOCACIES OF CEBU PEOPLE’S COOP|
(S.L.E.E.P. H.A.S. L.E.F.T.)
A country with a high rate of savings or a society which people has a high propensity to save is poised for progress. Hence, deposit-taking is primordial before other business activities or services can move. It is integral to an organization’s progress and development. This is our premise in making one of People’s Coop’s business purposes work.
In making sure we get to entice people to save, deposit products were designed to meet the varying term requirement of our member-depositors. We put special consideration to their purposes why they save. Even depositor with social objectives, they will find our specially designed deposit products attractive like CESPP, PPT and Aflatoun among others.
We do every effort necessary to ensure people will understand the value of savings and ultimately develop that culture to save.
Cebu People’s Coop has been a partner-implementor of the Urban Poor Livelihood and Fair Trade (UPLIFT) Project of the City of Cebu. The objective of the project is to teach the members of the coop skills that can be used in their livelihood activities. And in this project, the members are taught in the manufacture of soap, kitchen and toilet cleansing supplies, fabric softener and others.
Those trained are made to participate collectively in the production supported by the Cooperative. The coop provided the raw materials and other inputs. Their finished products are purchased by the coop at a profit margin so that those who labored will have income. Consequently, these are sold to its employees and members as well including Cebu East Asia Corporation.
Important to note is that those who participated in this productive endeavor are ordinary people in the community who are not gainfully employed. While others who can demonstrate a higher level of capacity are granted loans by the coop to do their own production businesses.
Aware of the existence of unemployed members of the Cooperative, Peoples Coop acquired Cebu East Asia Services Corporation. This company is engaged in manpower pooling and provision of general and professional services to companies and institutions.
Acquiring this company was a strategy to be able to enter into this kind of industry seamlessly and in the shortest time. With its long years of track record, we are now able to match other service providers in terms of experience and at the same time meet the requirements of the clients.
Today, with its pool of manpower, Cebu East Asia Services Corporation now supplies janitorial services to various government agencies and cooperatives in the Visayas and Mindanao including Cebu People’s Coop. Even informal micro businesses and private enterprises can be supplied by the company with competent manpower provided they meet the company’s conditions and requirements.
Starting out as a corporation was deliberate. But it was never the intention to remain that way. As of the moment, People’s Coop is in the process of converting it into a subsidiary cooperative in order that as an organization, it can fully avail the benefits accorded to it including its members.
The Cooperative is a strong believer in educated human resources as vital tool in attaining progress and development. This can be gleaned from the kind of products and services it developed for the members. It has innovated its products and services to support and promote education among its members and community.
Its banner program along this kind of advocacy is its College Education Financing and Savings Program as well as its College Education Scholarship Program. It also offers Save, Study and Pay Later Program to deserving members and employees.
In the interest of promoting education, People’s Coop also willingly conducts lectures to all visiting individuals and representatives of cooperatives who are on Lakbay Aral. On-the-job trainees too complete their curriculum requirements in the Cooperative.
In the initial years of cooperative development, cooperatives were regarded as apolitical. They distance themselves from politics because they want to avoid political complications when they reached out to their members to serve. They wanted to remove political colors in every activity they conduct with the public.
However, reality showed that political neutrality did the cooperatives more harm than good. Because it cannot openly display its political support for a certain group, often it is found alone in fighting its causes and protecting its own interest. And in the fight, it comes out powerless hence often emerged the victim.
Politically, Cooperatives are in constant threat. Its benefits and privileges enjoyed from government are now scrutinized by the prying eyes of the state. This prods Cebu Peoples Coop to come out and lead the way towards supporting Party-lists that can promote the diverse interest of the members of the cooperative consistent with the Coop’s prevailing advocacies of the time. It has realized the need to bring the fight to the halls of Congress rather than insist on the waning efficacy of the Parliament of the Street.
“Health is wealth” as the saying goes. It is the most important object of investment of our life. It is everybody’s concern, no doubt. With the kind of social lifestyles of the members exacerbated by their advancing ages, Cebu Peoples Cooperative does not turn a blind eye on the need for health care.
The Social Service Package was designed. This is a social service intended to accommodate demand for hospitalization, free medical consultation, medicine support, laboratory examinations, and free optical and dental consultations. This also covers additional benefit in case of natural and accidental death of the member.
To implement this, Cebu People’s Coop engaged health clinics, hospitals and health professionals that provide health care and laboratory examination services. To facilitate availment of these services, a card is issued to participating members.
A Koop Pharmacy is also established in the heart of the city. Patients are encouraged to purchase their medicines here. Investing in the pharmacy is a strategy of the Coop to optimize the contributions of the members under the SSP. That instead of just spending it as an annual cost on premiums, the pharmacy business can also develop into a profitable endeavour while generating job opportunities for the members.
Access to credit
In the economic equation of a society, credit is a major factor that ensures the economy works. However, it is another story when we talk about who provides credit and how it is delivered to the clients. There are so many financial players in the market today but People’s Coop made it a major investment in the business of realizing dreams. So that, more resource-poor entrepreneurs are able to grow and transform into a real income tax generator.
Formal financial service providers usually are not quite excited about the capacity of the poor to access credit. The general idea is that the poor are not bankable. But Cebu Peoples Coop discovered business opportunity in them. Hence, this market niche was developed. For the Leadership of the Coop believes that helping the poor is our responsibility to the society. And that social responsibility is still a good business today.
Peoples Coop designed its loan program in a way that it supports its own advocacy of uplifting the lives of the poor especially those with skills and positive character. Like for example members who have sari-sari store, the Coop can transform it into a bigger grocery store by financing the facelifting of its space and procurement of additional inventories. Even members starting out a business, the microfinance ASAP (Angkat sa Puhunan) program are designed for them. All these can be accessed under its BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) financing program.
The Rent-to-Own is another loan program designed for drivers. After a series of life-changing education session to be undergone by the whole family, a member-driver who has demonstrated strong commitment and desire maybe granted the privilege to drive home a brand new jeepney or taxi. Farmers and fishermen too have their own loan program under the Farming/Fishing financing program. This is to make sure, that even the least among us, can easily access credit.
Decent housing in urban areas is becoming difficult to access. This has become a problem especially to members of the Cooperative whose employment or source of living is in the city. Inspite of being a problem, Peoples Coop sees it as a business opportunity to serve its members.
Peoples Coop acquired properties in various strategic locations in areas where there is heavy concentration of members. It engaged a professional real estate developer to design the subdivision development plan and building plan. Currently, Blessed Sacrament Subdivision in Cagudoy, Lapu-Lapu City and a socialized housing project in Babag also in that city is already in the initial stage of implementation.
Considering the extensiveness of the financing requirement, the Coop also facilitates the access by the members to the housing financing program of government agencies like PAG-IBIG.
Over the years, the leadership structure of Cebu Peoples Multipurpose Cooperative has evolved into a form that allows easy succession and preparation of next-in-line successors. This is a structure that also provides a feedback mechanism that ensures direct connection to the lowest rung of the organization. Thus, facilitates information dissemination and gathering of responses.
Along with this structure, after forty years, Peoples Coop now has leaders who are willing to put forward the benefit of the members first before self. To forget one-self first takes tremendous effort. But these leaders wholeheartedly embrace the moral dictum of serving for the good of the majority first above all.
With this transformation, we now have officers who willingly volunteer and participate to lead activities of the coop. They listen compassionately and offer to assist willingly. They provide guidance and always there to lend a hand. Though at times, critical but management understands this is good governance.
The Cooperative also finds discomfort in the recent turn of events where calamities like typhoons, tsunami, landslides and excessive flooding especially in major cities hit the country. For who are hard hit in these natural environmental phenomena are always the poor and marginalized members of the cooperative. Consequently, this will affect the business of the cooperative when these members prioritize their recovery from the effect of the wrath of nature.
As socially responsible social enterprise, People’s Coop finds it compelling to engage in a program that addresses issues like environmental preservation and conservation. It also find equally challenging, issues like mitigating the impact of these disasters to the lives of the members and rehabilitating whatever is left after nature has been ravaged by these calamities.
People’s Coop’s contributions in these areas of concern are very noble and innovative. In a way of supporting the City of Cebu in its project of managing waste disposal, the Coop organized the informal settlers and workers in the city’s dumpsites and taught them how to turn trash to cash.
With the Coop’s implementation of its PPT (Piso-Piso Tigom) program, these dumpsite workers learn material recovery system. As a result, they accumulate more recyclable and re-sellable materials and earn from it. With guidance and motivation from the Coop, they developed the habit of saving and deposited their money with the Cooperative. As of today, this group now has a total savings deposit in the coop of 3.2 million pesos.
Peoples Coop also regularly participates in other activities like tree planting. Together with other non-government organizations, it actively supports other government initiatives that address environmental concerns in the whole Cebu Province.
Food is our most basic need. Man cannot live without it. With the increasing population of the world, it has become a major concern. And finding the most efficient way of producing or manufacturing food is a never ending quest where everyone must participate in it.
Peoples Coop is embarking into this direction. It made food security its theme in the design of its loan program. For example, the loan packages for farming and fishing activities. These support the implementation of potential enterprises in the area of agriculture and aquaculture. It is hoped that the vast land resources of the members in the rural areas are cultivated to produce food.
In this regard, the Cooperative had signed an agreement with manufacturer and supplier of feeds for commercial scale hog raising and poultry. This is to ensure that members going into this kind of productive endeavors will have easy access to production inputs as well as technical assistance that goes with it.
Information is power. But this power is dependent on how data are processed. By the kind of recording systems present in cooperatives today, it is quite sad that still very few recognize this. Only a handful of coops are actually fully computerized in their business transactions.
Recognizing the value of a good record keeping tool, People’s Coop developed its own accounting system. This is a system that can capture its varied concerns and situations in any business transaction. The good thing about this development is that Peoples Coop is open in sharing this system with other cooperatives and institutions. Today, it now has over thirty cooperatives across the country using this.
On the other hand, People’s Coop has implemented a model of sharing its management technology. It is a product of long institutional experience. Finally, it has consolidated this and shared to at least two cooperatives in the Visayas. This model of business expansion is anchored on the very value system of mutual help held by genuine cooperatives.