That noble message in bold prominent letters was etched on the annual General Assembly reports as the dominant theme for 2007 of the industry’s number one and biggest open-community type multi-purpose cooperative. A quite bold and rightfully-deserved theme for a once insignificant credit union that now celebrates its 52nd year of existence.
How surprisingly refreshing to chance upon a little bright bloom from the current grisly mire of negativism pervading the social and political landscape of a beleaguered country teeming with punditry that caters in wholesale unproductive rhetoric about what is wrong with the country in particular, and with the rest of the world in general. Abundant postulations, prognostications, detailed analytical dismantling of most anything and everything seen, but with hardly any constructive prognoses and actuations that will begin to address the gargantuan concerns besetting the citizenry, on a case by each case, one person at a time basis.
Yet from very inauspicious beginnings in July 8, 1954, birthed as the ACCU (Ateneo Cooperative Credit Union) in the then idyllic city of Cagayan de Oro, located in Northern Mindanao, and commencing with share capital of only 26.30 pesos, this community uplift undertaking has blossomed into something that will stagger even the most vocal and virulent among those who peddle negativism daily in the local blogosphere.
This multipurpose cooperative, now famously known as FICCO (First Community Cooperative, and now designed and registered to serve the entire country) has metamorphosed in to an almost 2 billion peso organization, with about 90,000 members at the end of 2006; and forecasted to register in 2007 2.5 billion in assets and 110,333 members, with increases at 32% and 24% respectively.
And to illustrate the redoubtable clout and deep community penetration of this undertaking, it carried in its books total loans of 1.5 billion pesos at the end of 2006, and projected at about 2 billion pesos for 2007. It is good to note that for 2006 loan releases amounted to 2.1 billion pesos.
But is it profitable? Can regular folks – teachers, drivers, market vendors, small entrepreneurs, etc, be trusted not only to faithfully follow a savings regimen, but also be counted upon to make good on loan accommodations?
Suffice it to say that the cooperative has always been stellarly profitable, and the last year was no exception.
For 2006, it registered net surplus for distribution to the tune of 118 million pesos, 70% of which were distributed to members as interests for deposit accounts, dividends on share capital, and patronage refunds to loan clients. Typically, 95% of the 70% are devoted to interests and dividends, while 5% for patronage refunds.
It was therefore with eager anticipation that I had my passbooks updated after an absence and dormancy of accounts for over a year. Needless to state, the increments were rather substantial, definitely better than what one would get for funds invested in other private financial institutions.
As an active member of FICCO since the 70’s, one finds some difficulty being quiet and reticent about the effectiveness and feasibility of this collective effort in its avowed purposes aimed at poverty alleviation, with emphasis on both development of a propensity to save and the integrity and mature commitment in discharging responsibilities with regard to credit accommodations.
As an equivalent shout at the rooftops, one cannot imagine the cluelessness and seeming ignorance of many pundits, government technocrats, and even in your typical highly-intelligent but dismally reality-aware pundits who ceaselessly harangue the blogosphere with endless rhetoric about what is wrong with the country and what should be done according to their idealized analyses.
Duh! Slow down and smell the coffee. You, too, may be able to participate in something constructive however puny or powerless one may feel about the overwhelmingly pervasive poverty conditions of the country. It is never that utterly hopeless. Most times meaningful solutions are within arm’s length of most everybody.
It does require great humility, and some real sweat equity, to climb down from one’s high perch of empty rhetoric, down to the levels of real actions, sometimes dirty, or insignificant or inconsequential, and do not derive much public notice to stoke one’s egotistical designs.
My exhortation? Contribute toward creating a real difference. In your own little ways.
The weekend dated March 11th witnessed the 11th and final general assembly comprising the members of the cooperative banking with the main office, held in a cavernous gym in the city’s polytechnic school. It was a rather well-attended affair which proudly reflected the over 10,000 main office clients.
For the sake of convenience and to accommodate the over 90,000 members scattered throughout many areas of Mindanao, it has been deemed proper after all these many years to hold different general assembly meetings in different locations. A truly admirable concept to bring cooperativism wherever it is needed.
Democracy being a rather unpredictable and at times messy affair, the assembly which was scheduled from 8 am to 12 noon went way passed schedule; and though the gym felt like it was filled to the rafters, scores of people milled outside. The much-awaited climax for the affair was the distribution of dividends which was purposely left as the last item for the agenda. And getting almost 11% p.a. for one’s investments was well worth the wait.