|Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn|
Co-operatives give to individuals power and their unified efforts provide a worthwhile contribution to the local economy.
This observation was made by Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, as he addressed a Cooperatives Department Training Workshop today.
The four-day course, which is facilitated by Adjunct Professor at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada, Tom Webb, was described as "timely" by the Commerce Minister, who noted that 2012 had been declared as the International Year of Cooperatives.
Senator Benn told the gathering that this year "…celebrates a different way of doing business, one which is focused on human need and not on human greed…The fact that they [cooperatives] are member-owned businesses allows them to aggregate the market power of people, who on their own, could achieve little or nothing and, in doing so, they provide ways out of poverty and powerlessness," Mr. Benn stated.
Observing that the "cooperative way of doing business is an avenue for growth in the economy of Barbados", he noted that government would continue to encourage the creation and development of cooperatives, which employed an estimated 100 million people worldwide and represented more than 1 billion members globally.
However, according to the Commerce Minister, in order for the true potential of these organisations to be reached, the element of volunteerism had to be embraced; and he revealed that, in contrast to the examples he had seen in Canada, "…cooperatives in the Caribbean, and in Barbados…don’t always get to learn the six basic principles [of cooperatives]…We go into it as a kind of a business, and the business starts to grow…[but] rather than put in some voluntary time, because labour costs can be high, we start to hire people who are not members of the movement…
"They don’t have that spirit of cooperation and we start to pay out wages, and the money is no longer circulated within the movement," Senator Benn lamented. ??Instead, he has suggested that a collaborative effort was key to the progress of local cooperatives and similar organisations.
Mr. Benn highlighted the youth as a group which had an important role to play in the development of cooperatives, observing that: "A modern commitment to cooperative development must originate with the young people."?? He also remarked that there was strength in numbers when marketing products, and suggested that small producers could stand to benefit, if they collaborated with other producers.?? This, he said, would allow them to present a sizable offering of products to supermarkets and hotels, which could reap real benefits for those involved.
Citing the need to return to a "harmonious way of living and cooperating and, once again, becoming our brother’s keeper," Senator Benn further noted that "cooperatives present us with values and a structure…We must leverage these attributes to produce, not only better businesses, but to advance the broader imperative of sustainable development.?? In that way, we can live up to the year’s theme: Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World."