Acting Registrar of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies, Brent Gittens. (FP)

The Co-operative Movement in Barbados has the potential to develop a new entrepreneurial class, with renewable energy co-operatives leading the way.

Acting Registrar of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies, Brent Gittens, expressed this view, saying the energy co-operatives had the opportunity to tap into a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and also help government to achieve its 2030 carbon neutral goal.

“The agricultural co-operatives will also play a vital role in helping to boost food production in these times of potential scarcity and uncertain supply,” Mr. Gittens stated.

He made the comments on Sunday at the St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church, at the start of activities to observe International Day of Co-operatives on Saturday, July 2, 2022.  This year’s theme is Co-operatives Build a Better World.

The Acting Registrar told the gathering: “Our 32 financial co-operatives (credit unions) provide direct employment for 562 persons, with a membership of 226,118, and assets in excess of 2.9 billion Barbados dollars.

“The non-financial co-operatives have a membership base of 1,400; assets of approximately 11 million Barbados dollars, and employ close to 100 persons.  Our co-operative movement caters to a diverse range of members at the national, community and institutional level.”

He stressed that co-operatives were very important to global development, as they were rooted in values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

“Additionally, they hold steadfast to the seven principles of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, autonomy and independence, education and training, cooperation among co-operatives and concern for community.

“Furthermore, co-operative legislation provides for a robust governance structure and regulatory oversight by an independent competent authority, which allows members to have a high level of trust and confidence in them. It is therefore no surprise that co-operatives have endured for so long and will continue well into the future, attracting more and more of the world’s population to their ranks,” Mr. Gittens proffered.

There are three million co-operatives worldwide.

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