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Cooperatives grow in leaps and bounds

PAULINE DIKUELO
Tsonope
The vim and vigour of the cooperative sector in Botswana is clearly identifiable as most of the cooperative organisations continue to show growth.

As the traditional job market deteriorates, the number of savings and credit cooperatives in the country is growing as people seek more stable and rewarding work. It is believed that the birth and subsequent spread of the cooperative Society concept, is the result of both the public and private sectors’ inability to meet the needs and choices of a civil society differentiated in terms of income, education, ethical background, and ideology. Sipora Tsonope, outgoing chairperson of Motswedi SACCOS believes an environment of savings and credit cooperatives development organisations is emerging to accelerate this trend.

In her view, cooperatives that are institutional have more potential to grow by leaps and bounds since they rely on members who have a common bond.

“For these cooperatives, it is easier to make savings and deductions from the members since their deductions are made directly from their salaries,” says Tsonope, who has been at the helm of Motswedi SACCOS for six years.

She says this is what makes institutional cooperatives more viable when compared to others. Tsonope indicates that there are different types of cooperatives including marketing types, consumers, producers and workers cooperatives.

Some experts believe that savings and credit cooperatives are well equipped to combine the advantage of local activities with regional and national networking.

According to the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), savings and credit cooperatives reach clients and areas that are unattractive to banks.

“They provide savings services to

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their members, unlike most micro credit NGOs. Their solid base of small savings accounts constitutes a stable, relatively low-cost funding source,” says CGAP, a global partnership of 34 leading organisations that seek to advance financial inclusion. Since independence, the cooperative movement in Botswana has experienced tremendous growth.

Motswedi SACCOS, for example, continues to grow as it recently notched up a net interest income of P9, 621,249 during 2016, which is an increase of 22.3% from P7, 480,114 the previous year.

“This is quite an impressive result considering that the economic climate has not yet fully recovered after the recession,” Tsonope says.

Investment, Trade and Industry assistant minister Biggie Butale says with 258 registered cooperatives in the country, the cooperative sector shows growth, not only in number, but in value as well.

“This is demonstrated by the level of investment, employment created and the benefits to the membership,” the assistant minister adds. Butale says the cooperative movement the world over is increasingly being promoted by international development organisations as a means to enhancing participatory and inclusive development.

He also notes that this is a result of the participatory nature of cooperatives that embrace the communities’ investment that promotes multiple growth opportunities.

“Besides providing means for economic growth, cooperatives also provide an opportunity for empowerment of local communities, socially and economically,” he says.

He encourages cooperatives to embrace good governance, business acumen mentality and robust winning strategies for their success.



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