Barbadian small business owners are seeing the benefits of forming cooperatives as a means of lowering operational costs, and assisting them in taking their enterprises to the next stage of development.
Registrar of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies, Brent Gittens, made this observation recently during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service.
Mr. Gittens explained that in 2019, the department added four cooperatives, and for the first half of 2020, three cooperatives were added, namely the People’s Agricultural and Business Society Cooperative, Barbados Sustainable Energy Cooperative Society, and the Public Service Vehicle Cooperative Society Limited.
The Registrar added: “People have recognised that it is important to pool resources together rather than going out there and trying to do things individually. You can lower your costs; buy in bulk. You have a better chance at lobbying to the government or the private sector for contracts and working as a collective. It is much better than working individually, so I think that is the major reason for the growth that we are experiencing in the movement right now.”
Speaking to the diversification of the cooperatives movement, Mr. Gittens said previously, the cooperatives formed were mainly in transport and agriculture, but there was a movement away from traditional cooperatives.
“Now we have a contractors and artisans’ cooperative, and these are a group of enterprising Barbadians that can build houses and can build anything. We also have a cooperative investment fund that will seek to provide funding to other cooperatives and also look to get investments from other cooperatives as well. We have the renewable energy cooperative, which is the first cooperative in the renewable energy sector. So, there is a certain diversification that the movement is also experiencing,” Mr. Gittens stated.
He also said that forming a sports cooperative was being discussed, and pointed to marketing efforts of the department at generating interest among different sectors that a cooperative can be “anything”.
Unlike a business, Mr. Gittens explained, the first aim of a cooperative is to its members and by extension, to its community.
“Any business would want profits but it is not the first aim of cooperatives. Cooperatives are member organisations that will focus on providing the best possible service to its members.”
Research shows that globally, there are approximately one billion people actively involved in the cooperative movement, and it generates US$2.4 billion in revenue.