- May 5, 2022
Last month, we got into the lives of former College classmates Jane, Carol, Lena, and Kevo who were talking about the importance and benefits of Co-operative enterprises. Some of them are now employees while others are employers. They had fun reminiscing about their time in College and how funny some of their teachers were.
Today they have met for coffee at the invitation of Kevo, who, 30 minutes later, is yet to arrive. He has called twice to apologize. Each time, he said he was around the corner but his friends doubt him given his bad history of keeping time, promises, and secrets!
Lena (breaking an eerie silence): Guys, the discussion last time about Co-operatives was really interesting. It got me thinking, what use do people have spending valuable time to discuss good business ideas, criticize those in business for poor performance, but they are too afraid to do business themselves?
Carol: We are four friends. If I remember correctly, the minimum number of people who can form a Co-operative is ten. And–
Jane (interrupting Carol): But my dear, those who come up with the idea are expected to bring together other people who may be interested to achieve their common goals by working together rather than working alone.
Lena: Personally, I prefer the Co-operative form of business to other forms, because Co-operatives are powered by ethical values and guided by pro-people principles.
(Kevo saunters in holding hands with a beautiful lady as Lena is talking. All eyes sweep towards his direction and fixate on them. Everyone appears to freeze in time).
Carol: Kevo, please feel welcome, together with my sister. Let’s introduce ourselves first then Kevo can do the needful.
Kevo (panting a little as he catches his breath: Guys I am so sorry for arriving late. This is my girlfriend, Queen. In fact, I had called this meeting so that I can request you to accompany me to visit her parents in two months’ time. I invite Queen to introduce herself.
Queen: Hi, my name is Queen Karenzi. We have been close friends with Kevo for the last three years but it is now that we want to take our relationship to the next level, just the way you want to take your discussions to the practical level. Never mind, Kevo filled me in on your thoughts on starting a Co-operative. Incidentally, I work at the State Department of Co-operatives as a lawyer. We help in the formulation of policies, ensuring compliance with laws and regulations relating to Co-operatives, carrying out investigations and inquiries on management and governance irregularities, and generally ensuring that Co-operatives benefit their members, communities, the environment, and the country at large.
Kevo: Please tell my friends what you were telling people at the Usawa SACCO General Meeting on Saturday.
Karenzi: Oh yes, that was interesting. Basically, Co-operative enterprises are powered by ethical values and guided by pro-people principles. The core Co-operative values are self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, Co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
Unlike private-owned firms whose main objective is to maximize profits by any means necessary, the main objective of Co-operative enterprises is to maximize services to their members and the immediate community.
Co-operatives have always been guided by change—but they are always pro-people. While the most well-known Co-operative was established on 24th October 1844, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) established the first set of Co-operative Principles in 1937 but revised them in 1966 and again in 1995. The current Seven Co-operative Principles are: (1) Voluntary and Open Membership (2) Democratic Member Control (3) Member Economic Participation (4) Autonomy and Independence (5) Education, Training, and Information (6) Cooperation among Cooperatives and (7) Concern for Community
In the next article, we shall explore Co-operative opportunities for young professionals.
Along Came Cooperatives is a series of topical articles (monthly) on Cooperatives, by Kirianki M’Imanyara, educating on what Cooperatives are and how we can leverage their power to attain our common social, economic, and cultural needs and aspirations.