DAVAO CITY — The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) said successful cooperatives, particularly those in the Davao Region, should consider mergers and venture into new operations such as food processing.
CDA Regional Director Elma R. Oguis, in a forum last week as the nationwide Cooperative Month celebration concluded, said eight cooperatives in Davao are now part of the “billionaire’s club,” with assets breaching the P1 billion mark.
Data released last week by CDA show there are 2,042 registered cooperatives in the region, of which eight have assets of more than P1 billion, while 468 have at least P1 million.
Of the eight, three are based in the city: Sta. Ana Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Agdao Multipurpose Cooperative, and King Multipurpose Cooperative.
Ms. Oguis noted that these groups, which primarily function as small lending institutions for members and operate small stores, have started making investments in department stores and medical clinics.
These expansion activities could be taken a step further, she said, if cooperatives were to collaborate to strengthen their financial muscle and operate like small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“The challenge is for us to go out of the comfort zones and go into other business. After merging and consolidating, we can concentrate on other types of (businesses),” said Ms. Oguis.
One example she cited is tapping available raw materials and go into value-added products for niche markets.
“Processing crops into chips and selling it to canteens may be a form of business,” she said.
Ms. Oguis said government assistance for technical development and marketing are available from agencies like the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Trade and Industry, while local governments also have special programs for SMEs.
CDA has also set up its online Cooperative Business Matching Information System, which provides information that could help cooperatives find new markets for their products.
Ms. Oguis said well-managed cooperatives have the potential to serve as growth drivers that benefit their members while contributing to economic development. — Carmelito Q. Francisco