September 28, 2022

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From losses to commercial malls! What cooperatives should avoid in order to benefit their members?

President Kagame with members of the business community touring a business centre in Gisozi/Kigali. Photo:File

 

By: Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

While in Rwanda the level of cooperatives is being remodelled, there are still some members of the cooperatives who make the same mistakes that often destroy the cooperatives or put them at a loss which lead to poverty among the members which is not their choice.

When you look at some of the cooperatives that have been able to thrive, they will tell you that the level they have reached did not come as such but it requires patience and honesty and learning from others to make a particular cooperative reach a satisfactory level.

Referring to the Business Talk interview on TV1 on February 5, 2021, the leaders of the two cooperatives, (KOABIGA and COPCOM), explained a lot about how to sustain cooperatives and prevent them from losses rather make them a partnership that benefits its members as financial institutions benefit their members.

Leaders of the cooperatives during a TV Talkshow

KOABIGA is a Gasabo Farmers’ Cooperative that operates in various wetlands in Gasabo District where it focuses on vegetable farming while COPCOM is a Cooperative for the Advancement of Traders of Construction Materials based in Gakiriro of Gisozi business centre in the city of Kigali.

With the example of the COPCOM Cooperative, the cooperative started with no place to work.

After forming the cooperative in May 2010, they decided to take a bank loan and each member contributes at least Rwf 6 million as a share.

Today the cooperative has modern commercial buildings which the management says that the achievements made so far didn’t fall from the air.

Nzamwita Samson who represented COPCOM during the last Friday TV1 Business Talk Program explained that they started with 102 members and now they have more than 300 members.

When you visit the area occupied by the Cooperative in Gakiriro, Gisozi Business Centre, you will no doubt agree that this is the place where billions of Rwandan francs are spent because apart from the fact that they work efficiently and materials that are sold or manufactured there, are the most important raw materials needed by the construction sector in Rwanda.

Nzamwita noted “This Cooperative has modern commercial buildings built from the strength of its members not to mention the loans we have requested from the Bank.”

He explains that having a working cooperative is not an easy journey because sometimes there are obstacles that can even make it collapse.

As he explains, Nzamwita revealed that “Joining the Cooperative is not going to Heaven … What I am saying here is that the one who sees the COPCOM achievements today can forget that the Bank’s loan has to be repaid.”

He added that in fact COPCOM once took a loan in addition to the members’ contribution but later due to poor management of the Cooperative they came to find that they had already come to a loss of Rwf 706 million.

“If the members get discouraged, the Cooperative would have collapsed,” he said.

The fact that the COPCOM Cooperative has not collapsed was due to the continuous learning experience from other cooperatives who have been able to stay in business for a long time.

“Today the experts in the financial audit tell us that we are in a time of profit” He revealed

Nzamwita Samson as well as other leaders of cooperatives who have been able to achieve a thrilling level including KOABIGA of Gasabo Farmers offer advice on how to make cooperatives sustainable and become a business sector.

They include good asset/cooperative management, setting long-term goals, sharing the financial benefits among members of the cooperative, learning from other cooperatives experience, learning from the experience of your predecessors and joining forces as members.

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