Biblically in the book of Daniel of the Old Testament, 45 days is about a period of painful wait, declaring blissful who will pass it and reaches the end of this period.
As for Cebu Peoples Multipurpose Cooperative, 45 years is a period in looking for the real meaning of all the things that are happening and painstakingly find the way towards a better future for us and those who rely on us. And that its forty five years were years of incessant struggle. It seized every opportunity that came its way to survive. But in every circumstance, it was always hopeful about the future and has never lost sight of the very reason for its being. To improve the quality of life of the members was always its inspiration. These forty five years purified Peoples Coop into a genuine and responsible social enterprise. The period has brought the Coop to the realization that discernment is over. It has finally found its pathway towards the fulfillment of its promise. Though characterized by rugged terrain, overtime it has managed to put into place the right strategy of unleashing the tremendous power hidden behind its development advocacies.
These development advocacies that started as issues centered around the very core of the cooperative social responsibility, namely:
At forty five, Peoples Coop is able to replicate itself. It has developed a way of expanding its business by transplanting its management technologies and systems in all its partner cooperatives.
In four decades, this is its legacy which is the new-found way of taking us further, starting today.
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 Peoples Coop’s business purposes work.
In making sure we get to entice people to save, depositand investment products were designed to meet the varying term requirement of our member-depositors with special consideration to their purposes why they save.
Another variation of the features of the deposit product is that it must appeal to depositors with social objectives similar to Saving Aiming for Venture Events and Dreams (SAVED); College Education Savings Plus Program (CESPP) through ProED, Piso-Piso Tigom (PPT) program; People’s Preferred Investment (PPI) Program; Deposit for Future Subscription Program through Play to Save (P2S); Aflatoun program among others. We need to 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 individual in the community and 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 home care products like: 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 coop partners and member entrepreneurs. 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 business.
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 for such.
Today, with its pool of manpower, it now supplies janitorial and other professional 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 met the company’s conditions and requirements.
Starting out as a corporation was deliberate. And 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/owners.
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 Program(CEFP) coupled with PROmoting Equal Opportunity for College EDucation for the Marginalized Families 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 want 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 for our life. It is everybody’s concern, no doubt. With the kind of social lifestyles of its members exacerbated by their advancing ages, Cebu Peoples Cooperative does not turn a blind eye on the need for health care.
The My Coop Cares Program was materialized. This social service is intended to accommodate the demand for hospitalization, medical consultation, medicine support, laboratory examinations, and optical and dental consultations. This also covers mortuary benefit in case of natural and accidental death of the member.
To do this, Cebu People’s Coop has engaged a private hospitals, health clinic, and health professionals that provide health care and laboratory examination services and memorial service provider. To facilitate availment of these services, a referral card or policy is issued to its members.
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 where a resource-poor entrepreneur is able to grow and transform into a real income tax generators.
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 opportunity in them and developed this market niche. For the Leadership believes that social responsibility too is a good business.
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 enough inventories. Even members starting out a business, the microfinance ASAP (Angkat sa Puhunan o Produkto) Express program are designed for them.
The Rent-to-Own is another loan program designed for taxi and jeepney drivers. After a series of life-changing education session to be undergone by the whole family of the member, one can drive home its brand new jeepney or taxi. Farmers and fishermen too have their own loan program under the Farming/Fishing Financing program.
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
Considering the extensiveness of the financing requirement, the Coop facilitates the access by the members to the housing financing program of government agencies like PAG-IBIG, Banks and for some other reasons other members opt to avail the the in-house financing program.
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. Thus, facilitating information dissemination and gathering of responses.
Along with this structure, after forty five 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, earthquakes and excessive flooding especially in major cities hit the country. For who are hard hit and vulnerable 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, Peoples Coop finds it compelling to engage in a program that addresses issues like environmental preservation and conservation. Equally challenging issues are mitigating the impact of these disasters to the lives of the members and rehabilitating whatever is left after nature is ravaged by these calamities.
Peoples Coop’s contributions in these areas of concern are very noble and innovative. In a way of supporting the local government and government agencies in educating the community and capacitating them with appropriate guidance and technology. Like in its project of managing waste disposal, the Coop organized the informal settlers and workers in the dumpsites and taught them how to turn trash to cash and introduced the Sanitation and Hygiene Initiative to Enterprise Livelihood Development (SHIELD) Program in partnership with OXFAM.,
With the Coop’s implementation of its PPT (Piso-Piso Tigom) and SHIELD program, these individuals and workers learn material recovery system and skills in the production of Home Care Products. As a result, they become productive and gain knowledge and skills and the importance of taking care of the environment and able to accumulate more recyclable and re-sellable materials and earn from it. With proper guidance and motivation from the Coop, they developed the habit of saving and deposited their money with the Cooperative.
Peoples Coop also regularly participates in other activities like tree planting and the like. Together with other non-government organizations, it actively supports other government initiatives that address environmental concerns in the whole Cebu Province. in line with this, Cebu People’s Coop recognizes participation of the community members to engage into bamboo farming for the following reasons:
CPMPC established partnership with experts and render the services to the province of Cebu and DENR who will share knowledge, experiences, skills and resources in helping the community members and to perform such expertise, skills, knowledge in working with Government Agency and other institution in its Environmental Programs thru Partnership in the Bamboo training.
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 can afford this. Only a handful of coops are actually fully computerized in their business transactions.
Recognizing the value of a good record keeping tool, Peoples 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. It now has over thirty cooperatives across the country using this.
On the other hand, Peoples Coop has implemented a model of sharing its management technology. A product of long institutional experience, it now has consolidated these and shared to at least more than 40 cooperatives including eight cooperatives in the Visayas under ACTIVE (Access to Competitive Technology & Innovations for a Viable and Efficient) Coop Partnership Program namely: Hilongos MPC, Cabucgayan MPC, Maac MPC, SILOMCO, San Roque MPC, Capoocan United Fisherfolks MPC, Macario MPC, TUCC and increasing . This model of business expansion is anchored on the very value system of mutual help and cooperative principle “cooperation among cooperatives” held by genuine cooperatives.