Co-operatives on the Ground: reports from the National Committee

Various reports from the National Committee were presented at a panel discussion aimed at assessing the impact of the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC). The discussion was part...

Various reports from the National Committee were presented during a panel discussion aimed at assessing the impact of the International Year of Co-operatives (IYC). The session was part of the Closing Ceremony of the IYC.

Minister Sjarfuddin Hassan of Indonesia was the first to present a report on the policies implemented by his government throughout the IYC.

 He began by presenting his tribute to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

He said the International Year was a “chance to highlight and promote co-ops in our countries".

Speaking on behalf of the Indonesian Government, he said that co-ops and small and medium enterprises (SME) can have a great contribution to society, and that co-operative development will continue to be a high priority in Indonesia.

He added that the policies adopted by the Government aimed to strengthen the institutional capacity of co-operatives, securing an appropriate environment for their development and creating equitable growth for Indonesian people.

Minister Sjarfuddin Hassan also said that one of the biggest saving and loans co-ops in Indonesia hopes to become one of the world's top 300 co-ops. He highlighted that many co-ops are not good enough in terms of their economic performance, but they have a tremendous impact on society and low income people depend upon them.

The Minister said: “These types of co-ops need to be recognised. I do hope that in the future there will be some adjustments to the criteria we use to determine the best co-ops”.

Mr Sjarfuddin Hassan said co-ops play an important role in reducing poverty, therefore the Indonesian government is encouraging society to join co-ops.

Throughout the year the Indonesian Government has been organising numerous activities such as seminars, conferences and expos. It had also commemorated the co-operative day in July 2012, held the Global 300 conference and adopted a new Co-operative Law.


The second report came from Michael Mercieca, representing the Government of Malta.

He said: “The work over the past years has achieved quite a lot in respect of our population”.

Mr Mercieca referred to Malta as a bridge between Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He explained that due to its geo-strategic location, his country has worked on helping co-ops to transfer and share experiences between countries in the Mediterranean.

The IYC Programme of the Maltese Government – Co-ops in Social Development, was launched in Parliament at the beginning of 2012.

Mr Mercieca said the IYC can only be the platform for future and emphasised the important role of co-op branding, marketing and social media.

The Government of Malta organised various events to promote the IYC, including training sessions on how to set up and lead co-ops. Minister Mercieca said youth involvement and co-op legislation are also on the government's agenda.

The government has encouraged students to set up co-ops and has also held discussions on co-op banking as an alternative to the traditional banking model.

He said: “Co-ops need to work hard between themselves to achieve the most of the IYC”. He added that sectors also need to co-operate from co-ops to civil society, the government and media organisations.“There should be information to monitor the existence of new co-ops and training of personnel who could then assist in forming new co-ops,” said Minister Mercieca.


Young co-operator Ana Giselle Rosas de Vallarino was the third panelist at this session. She is the Executive Director of Instituto Panameño Autónomo Cooperativo (IPACOOP) and she spoke on behalf of young co-operators from Panama. Ms Rosas de Vellerino said IPACOOP has plenty of followers on Facebook, many of whom are young people.

“For 2013 we are working in projects worth 32 million dollars to improve the production, infrastructure and equipment.” She added a lot of co-ops are located in poverty areas and do not have enough resources for incorporating technology.

Ms Rosas de Vellerino said Panama is supporting the empowerment of women through co-ops, with more new co-op female members than co-op male members. She added women should not simply be members of co-ops, but they should also be involved in decision-making. She explained Panama has witnessed 200% increase in the number of youth co-ops in the past years.

The country has also held a National Contest of Agricultural Co-operatives and hosted the second co-operative summit of Latin America, with 1,200 participants from all over the world assisting.

Ms Rosas de Vallerino said 35 million assigned by the Ministry of Housing and co-op funds for co-ops and 15,000 families benefited.

She concluded: “It is important for us as young people to take the advantage that we have. We need to stand up and work towards what we believe.”


The last speaker at the panel discussion was Alana Flores from the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

She is also the composer of the IYC 2012 theme song. Ms Flores said:

“The year 2012 is beautiful for the co-op movement of Trinidad and Tobago. Our presence today is evidence of that.”

Trinidad and Tobago marked the IYC through a series of events. The first one was the launch of the IYC, which also featured the release of the IYC 2012 theme song and the web page.

Ms Flores told the audience that Trinidad and Tobago has also launched a radio series called “Hand in hand”. The show, used as a platform to promote the co-op movement and principles, presented successful co-operative stories. The country has also hosted lectures on co-operative and credit union development, has organised competitions in schools and a small business expo with 150 co-ops taking part.

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