Among the big issues during this pandemic is the loss of family income, either due to loss of jobs / employment as a result of company closure or stoppage of the source of livelihood. To fill in the need of families for cash, LGUs have adopted distribution of amelioration funds, distribution of food / groceries, support to the seniors and in other cases, educational funds to students from low-income groups. Admittedly though, it does not solve the problem completely as LGU funds are also limited.
In the face of these economic challenges, people have to be self-reliant rather than become dependent alone to government dole out.
What does to become self-reliant mean? In cooperative parlance, self-reliant, or to some extent becoming self-sufficient, means the pooling of whatever resources an individual have, allow its use to accomplish certain objectives that would generally satisfy the need by the individual members of the community.
This works well if people will form cooperative primaries specifically service cooperatives. Following cooperative principle, to become a member, you have to contribute to the formation of the cooperative capital, For instance in a group of 10 families, there could be housewives that know how to cook, there are families that could do procurement of materials, some may have transportation abilities (some may own a motorbike or a tricycle, or a jeepney, ) while some could be good in direct marketing. If fees are agreed upon by the group members, then each one earn in the process. At the end of the year, they get additional cash in the form of Patronage Refund or dividend distributed according to the amount of capital contribution.
For those who can build huge capital for their service cooperatives, they can buy MSMEs and operate the business themselves. Example – they can buy Carinderias, small manufacturing – fire fighting equipment, acquiring existing services like that o a school bus operations, manufacture and sell school uniform and shoes, run school canteens, and small school bookstores, and the like.
When business grows, secondary cooperatives can be formed to cater to the needs of other groups. Easily, procurement of materials, distribution of services and training can be the objective of the secondary cooperatives. One secondary cooperative can provide a region their procurement services. Skills training can be provided by TESDA. Direct marketing can be supported by DTI info services while training can be undertaken by relevant government agencies.
If properly managed, this type of cooperation can provide the basic source of livelihood to the community, service to the people in establishing their own community business and training to the current and new membership. This can be replicated in other communities or Region with very little support from the government.
How can this be funded? Existing credit cooperatives , micro-finance organizations , rural banks and even private savings banks or government funded banks like the Land Bank can work with the Bangko Sentral and the Cooperatives Development Authority (CDA) for exemptions in their lending operations i.e. allowing them to invest in peoples initiative like this type of cooperatives.
The CDA can help bring to reality this idea or becoming self-reliant by providing field workers who will encourage the formation of the primary and the secondary Cooperative. Anyway, big things start with small beginnings.