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PIA Press Release

RP gets co-op award

by Cecile Abis, AWCF

Quezon City (11 March) -- The Asian Women in Cooperative Development Forum (AWCF) will award the 2008 "Transformative Individuals and Organizations Asian Cooperative Award," or Asian TrIO Award, to a co-op leader and a cooperative, both from the Philippines. Individual awardee is Ms Evelia R. Sator, board member of Tagum Cooperative (TC), Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Organizational awardee is the Center for Community Transformation Credit Cooperative (CCTCC), Manila. AWCF will bestow the awards in March 2009 at the general assembly of TC and CCTCC in Tagum City and Pasig City, respectively. The annual Asian TrIO Award, since 2006, honors co-op leaders and co-ops who make a difference and a transformation in Asian co-ops, for the present and future generations.

AWCF, the award convenor, is a resource center and advocacy body working since 1990 on gender and development, and co-op development in Asia. The region hosts a large number of the world's co-op organizations. Women are half, or even more than half, of the total membership of these co-ops. AWCF member-organizations in Asia are among the largest co-op federations in their countries, including the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), Philippines.

Among AWCF's strongest advocacies is for co-ops and their leaders to practice transformative leadership (TL), which will bring more positive changes to co-op membership and the communities. Thus co-ops will even be more relevant and effective, especially amid the current global recession that affects even local communities. Like the Award's previous winners from Thailand and also the Philippines, the 2008 awardees best exemplify the tenets of TL, as advocated by the AWCF, that is: being "development-oriented, issue-focused and gender-sensitive" or "DO IF GS."

What is a transformed co-op and co-op leader?

  • Development-Oriented: The leadership embraces the dual goals of a co-op, that is, social and economic. A co-op with TL is therefore a business with social goals and social responsibility.

  • Issue-Focused: The leadership is sensitive and responsive to the social and economic problems within and outside of the co-op. New and better co-op products and services are offered. Other forms of actions are taken, such as advocacy and awareness-raising. Non-traditional types of services are offered like day-care centers, micro-finance, literacy classes, health and nutrition, education and training, and information technology.

  • Gender-Sensitive: The leadership promotes gender equality and gender equity. Gender equality is the equal opportunity of women and men to participate in the leadership and decision-making processes of the co-ops and of all institutions of the society. Gender equity is the equitable benefits that women and men get from having equal opportunities to participate in these processes and institutions.

    The current high unemployment and poverty in the world is similar to the effects of the Industrial Revolution, during which the international co-op movement was born in response to the people's need for help. In today's crisis, co-ops get their strength from their rich history, their values and principles so that they can provide the same security and stability given to their members all these years. The members—people of mostly meager resources—go to their co-ops for credit for short-term needs; for capital and other support as they engage in micro-, small- to medium-enterprises to improve their livelihood. They trust their co-ops to protect their savings, which they hope will grow and further help secure their future. The members also avail of the co-ops' continuing education and training service, which is one of the pillars of the co-op movement. Members grow not only economically but also socially as they develop themselves through learning opportunities on co-op topics and other matters concerning them as individuals, their families, and their communities.

    Co-ops and leaders are expected to continue being effective by being attuned to happenings within and outside the co-op. They should be strong and can direct the members clearly amid challenges and opportunities. Co-ops and leaders should be able to transform their membership to the highest level of cooperation. This will result to a sustainable co-op enterprise that fulfills its dual economic and social roles. AWCF advocates for co-ops to be transformed and transformative in order to sustainably achieve their mandate, for current and future generations.

    The 2008 Asian TrIO Awardees:

    Ms Evelia R. Sator — a transformative co-op leader

  • A board member of TC, a primary co-op in Tagum City, which was established in 1967, and now has 37,774 members, with about 70 percent women; and more than PhP660 million in assets.

  • Has 36 years of co-op involvement—as a college student who promoted co-ops in other schools, to becoming a TC member a few years after graduation, a TC lecturer in its pre-membership education seminar for prospective co-op members, an elected officer in various committees of TC, and also former board chairperson of TC and of MASS-SPECC, a federation of Mindanao co-ops.

  • Enriched her skills and knowledge as co-op lecturer by undergoing many training events, some sponsored by co-op federations and development who believed in her. She became a sought-after co-op lecturer in TC and in all of Mindanao; also wrote co-op modules that were used in co-op training.

  • A multi-awarded member and officer in TC, a role model in being a responsible, diligent member; and as a participatory, consultative and effective decision-maker who is not afraid to voice out her views. But she is not afraid either to accept any shortcomings she may have. The bottomline in all her co-op work is to let members have the best in life.

  • Other milestones in her officership/leadership:

    - As a TC Election Committee officer, her committee amended provisions in TC's Bylaws on qualification and disqualification of co-op officers; promulgated the procedures in the conduct of elections; created election precincts; and appointed election deputies. These actions were to improve TC's election of officers, as TC wanted to elect better and more committed officers.

    - Became the board chairperson of TC in 2003, and of MASS-SPECC in 2007. In 2003, she spearheaded the approval of a new loan type for TC, the Instant Loan Bonanza, which had mechanics to protect TC against delinquency. At that time, TC also registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) the Tagum Co-op Women's Livelihood Association, Inc. (TWLAI), a long-awaited livelihood program for women in TC.

    - As volunteer board coordinator of TC's Savings and Credit with Education (SCWE) Program, she led in reviving its activities, with help from its field agents. They held livelihood training, gender and development (GAD) seminars, market day for products of SCWE participants, and other activities. These resulted to better loan repayments, lesser delinquency, and better informed women-participants in SCWE.

    - As MASS-SPECC chairperson, she led the federation in carrying out the GAD Program among Mindanao member-co-ops; and also in putting up a display shop at the MASS-SPECC office in Cagayan de Oro City for products produced by members, especially women, from different co-ops. This was an important marketing support for the women.

    - As a gender advocate in co-ops, Sator helped lead TC to become a gender-sensitive co-op. The TC allocated resources to let its gender advocacy move forward briskly with a clear direction and tangible results. TC is proud of its programs on GAD and on family enrichment, and its Women's Livelihood Association. She also foresees more women leading progressive co-ops, side by side with men, as women get more equal opportunities in leadership, co-op exposure, and education and training.

    - She believes that co-ops will continue to flourish and spread worldwide; and will always be there for people who want to help one another and to work together. She says that good co-op leaders are catalysts because they spread cooperativism in their own places and outside. They inspire and encourage her commitment to co-op work.

    - She believes that co-op leadership and management will learn to adopt trends in information and communication technology (ICT). Co-ops will then save time and money from better transactions, build a better image, and get even more trust from the members.

    Center for Community Transformation Credit Cooperative (CCTCC) — a transformative co-op

  • Brings together the haves and have-nots, the established and the downtrodden to help one another and be enriched economically, socially, and spiritually—even if some had said that it could not done or that it was the wrong way of helping the poor who are "high credit risks." The Co-op's objective is to develop and support entrepreneurial skills of the poor, especially women, through microfinance (MF), training, and strengthening of Christian values.

  • Founded in Manila, 1998 by organizers led by Ms Ruth Callanta from the Center for Community Transformation, itself a development organization started in 1992 by Ms Callanta and her like-minded friends who believed that "unless the hearts of people who implement and benefit from development programs are changed, true and lasting development is unattainable." They believed that development endeavors should be Christ-centered and –anchored, and that people's empowerment can be best achieved by enriching their spirituality.

  • Callanta, as CCTCC general manager, spearheaded the transformation of the MF program into a co-op because she believed that this self-help development organization can meet common economic, social, cultural and spiritual needs and aspirations of the members. A co-op can promote the Christian values of equity, justice, people's participation, solidarity, and social responsibility within the members' Christ-centered faith communities, a vision that Callanta shared with her colleagues in CCTCC.

  • Complies with the requirements of the Philippine Co-op Code, and more. Its structural framework transcends that of how co-ops are more popularly known, understood, and operated. CCTCC was founded and is being managed as a faith-based social enterprise while other co-ops are largely operated as secular enterprises. It is managed from its Manila head office, and services Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Cebu, Iloilo, and Capiz. The bulk of the work is done by over 400 Co-op Project Assistants (PAs), spread across 150 branches. The PAs are assisted by CCTCC's community servant leaders in transacting with members, particularly for their savings and credit transactions with the Co-op.

  • Its credit program and other financial services are not end-goals but are platforms for holistic services availed of by the poor who compose CCTCC's large associate membership base. Its services are loans for micro and small business, educational loans, and housing loans. It has integrated into its services the public social security and health insurance programs, for the members' greater benefit.

  • Filipino business people, meanwhile, are CCTCC's regular members. These regular members utilize their Christian philanthropic values, and contribute personal resources for poverty reduction, without expecting anything in return. They have signed a legal document, waiving their rights (as well as that of their families and heirs) to any profit from the Co-op. They are fulfilled with the privilege of serving the Lord and His people in and through CCTCC as a social enterprise. This social enterprise now has 122,920 members; a loan portfolio of PhP432 million; a portfolio-at-risk of 4.78 percent; and PhP178 million of savings mobilized. It has 7,000 community leaders trained and serving, and more than 1,700 children and youth given educational assistance.

  • CCTCC's centralized structure does not hinder its women-partners, who are the majority of the membership, in productively and creatively participating in, supporting, and lifting one another to give life and movement to the organization.

  • It closely coordinates with other entities of the Center for Community Transformation—the Visions of Hope Foundation, for the education of children and youth; Tindahan Para Sa Bayan (Our Grocery Store), for basic household necessities at a low cost; and the Training and Development Institute, for continuing education and training in community organizing, leadership, and other topics. All these entities are the implementing structures for integrated community development programs. For instance, the Entrep-Eskwela School of Entrepreneurship of the Training and Development Institute enables CCTCC members who are micro and small entrepreneurs to learn the basics of business operations and management.

  • CCTCC has transformed many members, families, and communities for the better, using MF as its platform for development while integrating a full menu of services. The Co-op has shown and continues to show that the poor can be transformed from helplessness to economic empowerment, rooted in faith.

  • Aside from their better income and living condition, the associate members are now confident servant leaders of their groups and communities. As agents of change, their transformation is their living example of Christ's love and mercy. Through CCTCC's Membership Development Program, the associate members can progress to become regular members and have seats in the CCTCC's Board.

  • Since CCTCC's membership is mostly women (in the associate membership base), it emphasizes that its organization can be a catalyst for a strong and strategic participation of women in helping change Philippine society, using the Co-op's services and programs.

  • It hopes to generate equity financing or internal capital from partner/associate members themselves for sustainability, rather than depend on external borrowing. Also, there will be the intensification of its existing financial products and services, enhancement of its membership service fund (loan and life insurance), and opening up of supplemental loans to refinance distressed businesses of good borrowers.

  • It is also organizing the servant leaders into a community-based association of entrepreneurs, the Kilusan ng mga Kabayaning Negosyante (KKN). With proper training, strong faithfulness, and earnest aspiration to effect long-lasting transformation, the Co-op is positive of KKN's significant role in nation-building and in advancing Christian values.

  • CCTCC's leadership envisions the Co-op to be a sustainable, financially viable agent of transformation led by poor women who are productive, economically empowered, and who work with their husbands, children, communities, government, and other organizations for the building of livable and caring faith-based communities.

    More information on the TrIO awardees is at (ACWF/PIA) [top]

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