Wean to win against poverty: The birth of MKK Consumers Cooperative

We were all infants once. We all had our baby steps. And we needed strong hands to support us make the small steps. And while we were still growing up, our parents still had to do many things for us. Sooner though, we had to do things for ourselves and young adulthood initiates us to cross the line from dependency to autonomy. Autonomy, the capacity to decide things on our own, and do things for ourselves are visible indicators we are growing.

There is time to be taken cared of by others. There is time for weaning. This ushers in growth for each of us. Without doing this, growth does not happen. We see parents who did not wean their adult children, or adult children who refused to be weaned. This result to being overprotective and children’s growth are stunted, or children who forever remain as infants.

The process of weaning to facilitate growth applies to many aspects of life. The same goes with the partnership we have with MKK (Magagmay nga Kristianong Katilingban) communities we assisted since Yolanda devastated their lives last November 8, 2013. From day one, we deliberately facilitated capacity-building processes that would lead to their eventual weaning. And right timing is everything. We call it “kairos”, the opportune time. It’s God’s time. We wean them prematurely and initiatives are not sustained. We wean them too late and they become over-dependent.

All our initiatives with partner communities – whether it’s organizing and formation, economic or environmental – are all designed to build their sense of community. This explains why in every opportunity, including economic interventions like livelihood rehabilitation and enhancement, we prefer that they decide and act as a community. The communities we serve are like a microcosm of our country. The more fragmented we are, the poorer we become. The model we prefer in helping them do business is through social business enterprise, which simply means that they collectively own and manage their business enterprise. Assessing different business models, we believe that cooperativism comes closest to our preferred direction.

Last April 15, 2015, our partner communities had the Pre-Membership Seminar (PMES) conducted by the Provincial Cooperative Development Office (PCDO) as a requirement for membership in a cooperative. Finally last May 26, 2015, they named their cooperative MKK (Magagmay nga Kristianong Katilingban) Consumers Cooperative and elected their Board of Directors (BOD) and other officers. The BOD is a balanced mix among volunteer leaders and community members themselves. They also allotted two minor membership for representatives from management team for continued technical assistance.

They are now gearing for capacity-building processes, starting with the BOD and officers, to equip themselves the needed competence to steer their infant cooperative. Sooner, they would embark on consumer businesses in their bid to respond decisively against poverty. Pooling their resources together is the key. If they conduct their businesses individually, their capitalization would be so small that would allow only small businesses. Sooner, they all become unsustainable. We’ve seen that in many individual-based livelihood interventions for disaster survivors from typhoons like Sendong and Ondoy in other provinces. We’re banking on our partners’ willingness to let cooperation, pooling of resources, equitable ownership, patronage, savings mobilization, capital build-up and good governance to nurture their social enterprises to become community-owned and managed businesses that would achieve an economy of scale with returns that could significantly address their perennial impoverishment.

We celebrate that we are witnessing this weaning process when our partners had passed their baby steps, and are now making the big steps towards financial freedom. We are happily anticipating to see them make those big leaps later to finally end the curse of poverty that hounded them for so long.

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Signing

July Jean Junsay, Cooperative Development Specialist from the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) explains the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of Coop Officers before the holding of elections.

July Jean Junsay, Cooperative Development Specialist from the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) explains the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of Coop Officers before the holding of elections.

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Commissioning rite for the interim Board of Directors

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