CDA 7 chief: Digitalization of small cooperatives in Central Visayas remains a challenge

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THE digitalization of small or micro cooperatives in the Philippines remains a challenge.

This was revealed by Doreen Ancheta, director of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in Region 7.

“Digitalization is a natural progression for cooperative members that are part of the huge, (asset-rich) cooperatives. But how about the small and micro cooperatives? That is still the challenge for our country,” Ancheta said.

On Oct. 29, 2021, representatives of 15 medium and large cooperatives in Central Visayas participated in an event led by the CDA 7 that taught them on how to futureproof cooperatives. The CDA is the government agency mandated to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice, and economic development.

Ancheta told the participants that the Covid-19 pandemic constrained “people’s mobility for almost two years now, and has intensified the trend toward digitalization.”

Ancheta, an engineer, said cooperatives are following the digitalization trend, but this is largely confined among the large ones only.

In the Philippines, 54 percent of the cooperatives are classified as micro cooperatives. Altogether, they own only 2 percent of all cooperatives’ assets.

‘Digitize or die’

The event’s resource speaker, Ann Cuisia of digiCOOP, said adoption of technologies in the Philippines is still considered low.

“Top cooperatives worldwide make use of technology to engage their members in governance and decision-making,” she said.

Cuisia further said: “We either digitize or die... But how do we futureproof the cooperative sector? By partnering with the right technology platforms.”

She then introduced digiCOOP, which she said is a platform that “aims to unite and serve multiple member cooperatives (in terms of improving their income streams); and the individual members by building the latter’s own wealth through participation in a lively ecosystem (beyond their own cooperative).”

DigiCOOP is the first Philippine cooperative-owned technology platform for cooperatives. It is managed by its technology support provider, Traxion Technology Services Cooperative, headed by Cuisia, its press release said.

Complementing digiCOOP’s platform are the digiCOOP business centers that have started to emerge in the countryside. The event also acknowledged the latest business centers that were launched in the main branches of Tekton Entre Multipurpose Cooperative (Cebu City), Sta. Monica Bukidnon Multipurpose Cooperative (Bukidnon), And San Jose Multipurpose Cooperative (Antique).

Some of the cooperatives represented at the event include the Perpetual Help Community Cooperative–Dumaguete City, Metro Ormoc Community Cooperative, Cebu Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Cordova Multi-Purpose Cooperative, National Teachers and Employees Cooperative Bank, and Mandaue City Public Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

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