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Pandemic pushes coops towards digitalization

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol / The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Medium and large cooperatives in Central Visayas are expected to push for digitalization.

“The pandemic, which constrained our people’s mobility for almost two years now, has intensified the trend toward digitalization,” said Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-7 Director Doreen Ancheta during the recently concluded gathering of cooperatives in Central Visayas.

The CDA is the government agency mandated to promote the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice, and economic development.

There were 15 medium and large cooperatives in Region-7 represented to gain insights on how to future-proof the cooperative sector against external shocks.

Ancheta noted that cooperatives are following the digitalization trend, although this is largely confined among the large ones only.

“Top cooperatives worldwide make use of technology to engage their members in governance and decision-making,” added resource speaker Ann Cuisia who is the visionary behind digiCOOP, a technology platform dedicated to serving cooperatives.

Unfortunately, Cuisia said, technological adaptation in the local setting is still considered low.

“We either digitize or die…But how do we future proof the cooperative sector? By partnering with the right technology platforms,” Cuisia said.

Ancheta agreed with Cuisia’s observations saying it is such a challenge for them, especially those for members of small and micro cooperatives.

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

Meanwhile, the digiCOOP is one platform that aims to unite and serve multiple member-cooperative [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 said to be the country’s  cooperative-owned technology platform for cooperatives and is managed by its technology support provider, Traxion Technology Services Cooperative, headed by Cuisia.

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 Multi-purpose Cooperative (Bukidnon), and San Jose Multi-purpose Cooperative (Antique).

Other cooperatives represented at the event include the Perpetual Help Community Cooperative – Dumaguete, 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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