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

An increasing number of Barbadians are expressing interest in the co-operative business model and movement, with 12 societies being formed during the past three and a half years.

This disclosure has come from acting Registrar of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies, Brent Gittens, who is encouraging Barbadians who are not a part of the co-operative business model to seriously consider becoming members, saying the benefits are many and varied.

In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mr. Gittens attributed this rise in interest in the movement to the harsh economic circumstances emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as greater public education, and publicity.

 “The harsh economic times experienced by individuals over the past two years brought home the strong realisation that pooling resources and working as a collective could play a very important part in survival and economic enfranchisement later down the road.

“Additionally, we enhanced our public education by offering webinars and workshops, etcetera, and we received greater media exposure, which generated more interest from the public, including government employees. This heightened awareness resulted in more enquiries. Therefore, since 2018, there has been considerable growth, diversity and expansion of the sector, with 12 societies being formed in various sectors,” he reported.

Mr. Gittens said 34 non-financial co-operatives were currently registered in various sectors in Barbados, including construction, transport, agriculture, investment, and renewable energy. He added that over 1,400 persons belonged to these organisations.

And, he noted that any form of business venture could utilise the co-operative business model.  “The most important factor is that the potential co-op members must ensure they are all on the same page throughout the development process, and are in agreement with the directions being pursued,” he stressed.

In emphasising the numerous benefits of being a part of the co-operative movement, Mr. Gittens highlighted some of them as members working together and pooling resources which enabled bulk or wholesalepurchases, and societies’ income at the bank being exempted from Corporate Tax.

He further noted that “a co-operative can seek out markets as a group rather than individually.  It is part of a large movement that can lobby Government and the private sector; the potential to obtain long-term contracts and export their products and services is stronger, and they will receive continuous assistance and guidance from the Co-operatives Department, which is the regulator,” he explained.

Persons who desire more information on the co-operative business model or forming a co-operative should call the Co-operatives Department at 535-0150 or 535-0151, or email coops@barbados.gov.bb.  Persons may also visit www.commerce.gov.bb.

According to the International Co-operative Alliance, the apex body which unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide, a co-operative is “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through jointly owned democratically controlled enterprise”.

There are about three million co-operatives in the world, and at least 12 per cent of the world’s population are members of the movement.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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