Friday July 11 2014

Cooperatives are key for development

By Fred A. Ahimbisibwe

Cooperatives play a crucial role in achieving economic security and an acceptable standard of living. This is because cooperatives provide an organisational framework, which enables a significant proportion of Ugandans create productive employment, achieving social integration and sustainable development.

However, to realise this, development of cooperatives must be based on principles and values that requires putting members of the cooperative societies at the centre. A key factor in this is the importance of building a strong corporate social responsibility orientation. Experience shows that for more than a century, while some cooperatives have lived up to their objectives, many have not registered tangible success due to:

Poor selection of committees; members who let a few persons make policies; members who do not attend annual meetings and directors who fail to attend board meetings; lack of consistent membership education about the problems cooperatives face and the challenges they must meet; members not supporting cooperatives with enough risk capital to get the business done; failure to curb the formation of cliques and special interest groups within the cooperatives.

If such challenges are not checked, this ultimately breaks up the cooperatives. It is important to take appropriate measures to ensure cooperatives operative smoothly. That is why in spite of various shortcomings, there are prosperous cooperatives in Uganda because: They are adequately financed by the members –the greater the financing (risk capital) supplied by the members, the more efficient the cooperative; maintaining low administrative and overhead costs; more specialised services, particularly in the marketing area; maintaining an open line of communication with members; selecting and developing quality management team; placing more emphasis on business oriented directors; developing and implementing a systematic method of cooperative education for members; and aggressively positioning for changes in operations, markets and member needs.

Finally, all communities in Uganda need to interest themselves in forming and joining cooperatives if they are to attain sustainable development for all in line with this years’ cooperative day theme: “Cooperative Enterprises achieve Sustainable Development for all.”