ICA’s Global Board met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in early May and so had the opportunity to witness first-hand one of the world’s remarkable co-operative stories. Our host was ANGKASA, the Malaysian National Co-operative Movement, an inspiring story all by itself. It celebrates its 40th anniversary this month and was officially recognised as the national apex body 15 years ago.
ANGKASA has developed a remarkable business model, which has given it substantial financial capacity to grow the Malaysian movement. In 1977, the government decided that it would no longer be able, for reasons of administrative inconvenience, to process deductions from government employees to repay loans the employees had taken out with co-operatives or for other payments to co-operatives. Alarmed by the financial impact this would have on its member co-operatives, ANGKASA obtained permission to process the deductions itself and obtain an administrative fee. Over the years, this has grown to become a substantial revenue generator for the organisation, which has rebounded to the benefit of the co-operative movement.
Today there are over 8000 co-operatives in Malaysia, with almost 7 million individual memberships. One of the most inspiring achievements has been the inculcation of co-operatives into 90% of the schools, around 2000 in total. The Board visited one of these and saw an impressive co-operative programme in operation. This early exposure to co-operatives promises to create a lasting legacy, for an entire generation.
Given this strong base, the Malaysian government expects the co-operative contribution to GDP to grow to 5% in 2013, 10% in 2020, and 15% in 2030. Experiencing this energy reinforced the Board’s commitment that the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012 become the gateway to a Co-operative Decade!