Ministry of Trade and Industry’s strategy for joint ventures between Co-operative Societies and other business enterprises has begun to bear fruit. As a result of this initiative, a number of co-operative societies have formed or are in the process of forming strategic partnerships with private investors.
Modukanele Modukanele, Head of the Business Development Division under the Department of Cooperatives, said, “The idea of the national cooperatives development policy which was formulated in 2007 and approved in August 2008, was to help the cooperatives to become dynamic and catch the earliest train into the globalization movement, by tapping on the expertise and experience of the private sector.”
Modukanele pointed out that they would want to see the cooperatives create employment opportunities, and evolve into sustainable entities capable of diversifying into other income generating activities such as tourism, accommodation and other worthwhile ventures.
To effectively develop to that level, Modukanele indicated that it was highlighted by the stated policy that cooperatives should go into strategic partnership with private enterprises.
“On account of the business acumen, skills and technological requirements for succeeding in today’s modern world, no room exists for unilateralism, especially one has to master the challenges presented by globalization and competition, lest they lag behind forever,” argued Modukanele.
In this context, a number of examples were cited to typify the benefits of having heeded the message.
Molepolole Consumers Co-operative Society is reported to have partnered with Trade World and has so far benefited in terms of competitive prices which have since December 2009, resulted in notable sales growth. In addition, the Society stands to benefit from a commission of 1% for every P30 000 sales made.
Through a more or less similar arrangement, Mmadinare Multipurpose on the other hand is extending its dairy plant and refurbishing the farm infrastructure to produce additional dairy products and increase fresh milk output. The total funding of the project is P1.5 million and the amount used so far is P548 580. Last November, the Society sourced 60 milk cows from South Africa at a cost of P10 250 each. The cows are expected to start calving in the first half of this year.
The Serowe Marketing Co-operative Society has sublet its commercial property to several tenants, while the Selebi Phikwe Co-operative Society is venturing into property development and has so far contributed P70 000 in shares.
Again, a Poultry Meat Processing and Marketing Co-operative in Selebi Phikwe has increased its capital from P20 000 to P33 000 and is working towards raising the minimum contribution of P200 000 to qualify for the Livestock Management and Infrastructure Development (LIMID) grant of P2 million.
It was also stated that Gaborone Consumers Cooperative has an equally profitable relationship with a company called CCW, directors of whom include such powerful business figures as a certain Mr. Wensell and Mooney of Trans Africa.
It is envisaged that such partnerships will benefit co-operatives through synergies of strong trade names, economies of scale technology, transfer of business management skills and the capability to scan the business environment and map out competitive responses that such partnerships and
Concern, though, was expressed of the fact that the process of cooperatives swaying in the desired direction is relatively slow, officials held that it should be acknowledged however, that it is a new thing.
“Besides, there is the issue of elderly people predominating the negotiations for partnerships, and that naturally makes the movement understandably slow, but we hope everybody appreciates the trend or risk being left in the periphery,” concluded Modukanele.
An official at the Trade World’s Managing Director’s office who declined to be mentioned by name, commented thus, “As for us the conception behind the arrangement we have with the Molepolole cooperative is that in the same manner that we get from purchases from customers, we are also giving back to the community while at the same time attracting more business.”