Cooperative for tech services eyed in Mindanao – BusinessWorld Online

COOPERATIVES in southern and central Philippines are moving along the digital path with plans to set up a specialized technology service enterprise in Mindanao, while small and micro co-ops in Central Visayas have started looking into the adaption of automated platforms.  
The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) recently met with Mindanao-based farmer co-ops to discuss their plan to set up a secondary unit that will be named Technology Service Cooperative to focus on the sector’s digital transformation.  
“The organized cooperatives are expected to pool their resources so as to introduce technological innovations, particularly in supporting cooperatives across the country through e-commerce, portals and innovative ways of bridging the gap in market access,” Assistant Secretary Myrla B. Paradillo, CDA acting administrator and board member, said during the meeting.   
The tech service cooperative, which will be composed of at least 15 existing ones, will comply with financial regulation requirements, particularly those from the central bank. 
“One of the dreams of Philippine cooperatives is to be part of the national payment management system,” said Assistant Secretary Vidal Villanueva III, head of the CDA’s financial cluster.  
While some cooperatives, particularly the bigger ones, have already started their own digital systems, there is still room to improve their smaller counterparts’ access to online services, he added.   
In Cebu City, 15 cooperatives from across the Central Visayas region met in end-October to discuss the digital shift, especially for small and micro cooperatives.  
“Top cooperatives worldwide make use of technology to engage their members in governance and decision-making,” said Ann J. Cuisia, chair of Traxion Cooperative, which provides the DigiCOOP platform to Mindanao-based First Community Credit Cooperative, Inc. 
“Unfortunately, technological adoption in the local setting is still considered low,” she added.  
DigiCOOP has recently set up business centers in Cebu City and Antique in partnership with existing local cooperatives to expand into the Visayas area.   
“Digitalization is a natural progression for cooperative members that are part of the huge, (asset-rich) cooperatives. But how about the small and micro cooperatives? That is still the challenge for our country,” said CDA Central Visayas Regional Director Doreen C. Ancheta.   
She noted that 54% of cooperatives in the Philippines are classified as micro. These account for 2% of all cooperatives’ assets. — MSJ