Co-operatives an “Extremely Powerful’’ Sector

Grenadian Economist Aaron Moses

Grenadian Economist Aaron Moses

Credit union members in Grenada have been commended for their “pragmatic’’ decision of joining a co-operative, which is “a very noble organizational structure’’.

That’s one of the messages delivered by Grenadian economist Aaron Moses, as he addressed a one-day seminar for Non-Financial Co-operatives organized by the Grenada Co-operative League.

“What you have done by becoming a co-operative, by becoming active members of your co-operative, is a very noble – but yet very pragmatic and real decision – that can yield fruits and benefits for sustainability, growth and development; ’cause if there is no growth and development, there is no sustainability (and) your ability to enhance your individual circumstances, and impact that of your family, will be limited,’’ Moses said.

Moses, a veteran of the local, regional and international co-operative movement, has also held senior positions in the private and public sectors of Grenada. He recently was reelected President of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and is also serving on the Board of Directors of the World Council of Co-operatives.

“You are part of a very noble organizational structure,’’ said Moses, who underlined the importance of the co-operatives by referring to a study of the sector conducted by the International Labour Organization. The study showed that in the period following the 2008 world financial and economic crisis, credit unions demonstrated resilience and performed much better than the private banking system.

“That, to a large extent, led to a relook of the co-operative model and the potential it holds for resilience and for delivery of a better socio-economic model,’’ Moses said.

“The question needs to be asked, why is it that the co-operative model did much better, post the economic downturn that affected the entire world?  Why is it?  And if you look very hard, it is primarily because of the principles that underpin and underlie the co-operative sector. Those values that we adhere to – the values of inclusion, where every individual member of a co-operative has the ability to participate in the decision-making of that institution; one man one vote; the values of sharing,’’ he explained.

“People who adhere to the values in difficult times, if you care and are concerned about your fellow member, your approach to development, your approach to work will be different to that of a model that focuses on individualism and the pursuits of profits at all cost and that is the differentiator; the primary differentiator between the co-operative model and other models.  And the study found that because of those underlying principles, the co-operative sector thrives better.’’

Cooperatives, Moses said, are “part of a world family that is growing and developing very rapidly’’ in small countries and in large capitalist nations as well.

“In fact, a recent study also demonstrated that the top 300 co-operatives in the world by size – and you have billion dollar co-operatives – are equal to the 9th largest economy in the world, which is that of Brazil,’’ he said.  “So, yet again, we see that the co-operative sector is extremely powerful and is very large and that can only happen because it’s sustainable and it’s a viable alternative model. So you need to have faith, you need to have confidence in what you’re doing.’’

While co-operatives have been successful, members must be prepared to deal with ongoing challenges that will arise, Moses warned.

“We always find people who would want to go off on their own individual tangents and you have to pull them back together.  You have to fight constantly to ensure that they adhere to your core values,’’ Moses said.

“We’re on to a good thing; something that has worked and continues to work and we can be successful if we adhere to the principles that underpin that unique structure in an organization known as co-operatives.’’

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