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On 19 July, the Singapore National Co-operative Federation and AUPE Credit Co-operative hosted the six-member delegation from the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) at the AUPE premises. Led by Tran Thanh Hai, VGCL Senior Vice President, the delegates were keen to learn more about the co-operative model from Singapore so that they can develop their own co-operatives / social enterprises.

Vgcl Visit Sg 2 WebsiteSNCF Senior Manager, Foo Chuan Yang briefed the delegates about the role of SNCF in promoting the co-operative movement as well as the governance and legal framework for setting up co-operatives. Mr Sean Tan from AUPE Credit Co-operative gave an introduction on AUPE Credit Co-operative. The session ended with a lively discussion on the role of co-operative movement and the social impact it delivers.

 

group photo suntec big screen


Jointly organised by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF), World Credit Union Conference 2018 (WCUC) kicked off with an opening ceremony on 15 July 2018. WCUC is the only conference that has a global focus on improving lives through credit co-operatives.

In WCUC 2018, credit co-operatives worldwide gathered at Singapore to discuss fintech trends, new technologies and global regulatory trends affecting the financial services industry today.

 dolly goh wcuc heng chee how wcuc 
 Ms Dolly Goh, CEO, SNCF  Guest-of-Honour, Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister
of State for Defence and Deputy Secretary of NTUC

Singapore is the first country in Southeast Asia to host this high-level global  event for the credit co-operative industry. Strong collaborative efforts between Singapore Tourism Board, SNCF and credit co-operatives were instrumental to Singapore winning the bid in 2016 to host this annual event.  

 

This year there was a total of 74 representatives from Singapore attending the conference sessions, together with over 1,400 leaders from the world’s leading credit co-operatives in 58 countries. Guest-of-Honour Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Deputy Secretary-General of NTUC, graced the opening ceremony at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mr Heng welcomed the delegates and encouraged them to stay competitive by embracing technological innovation and digital transformation to “effectively compete with other financial institutions and fintech in meeting the demands of new generation of members” while contributing to greater social good.

group photo sg excoMr Heng Chee How with representatives from SNCF, CCFC and affiliates


Over 50 leading industry experts shared their experience during keynote and breakout sessions on advocacy, blockchain technology, cybersecurity, diversity and inclusion, fintech, leadership and emerging trendsDr Ang Hak Seng, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and Executive Director, Registry of Co-operative Societies was one of the speakers for the breakout session on Innovation in Regulation. 

polwel coop booth wcucPOLWEL Credit Co-operative Society had an exhibition booth at WCUC 2018


On the afternoon of 18 July, participants who had signed up for the field trip visited the co-operative of their choice. The field trips were separately hosted by AUPE Credit Co-operative, Straits Times Credit Co-operative and TCC Credit Co-operative.

wcuc field visit aupeOne of the field trips was held at the AUPE Credit Co-operative


The event concluded with a closing party on 18 July with food, drinks and entertainment.

wcuc closing partyWCUC 2018 Closing Party

Let’s hear from the delegates and SNCF representative of their experience at WCUC 2018:

Terence SncfTerence Pan, SNCF, who took part in the international flag parade, a long-standing tradition said:

“I feel proud that Singapore is part of a wider global movement of credit co-operatives that exists for the purpose to uplift the financial excluded societies. It’s very heart-warming to be part of it!” He also felt privileged to represent Singapore to welcome and host the delegates from 58 countries, and being part of the co-operative movement in Singapore.

Terence is also intrigued from the sharing of successful technological innovations such as Colombia's credit co-operatives adopting a rural outreach model to expand financial inclusion in some of its most marginalised areas and the development of ACCU Payment Platform (APP), part of ACCU’s efforts to modernise services to members and to extend financial inclusion around Asia. He “enjoyed learning from leaders of other co-operatives, especially those initiatives created to promote a financial inclusive society.”



 

Pat Duffield Atlantic Central Credit Unions
    Ms. Pat Duffield
    Chair
    Atlantic Central Credit Unions

“Singapore is a safe, wonderful and clean country. My daughter said it is the safest country she has ever been to. The attractions are good and I enjoyed my stay here!”


To WOCCU: “Kudos to Anna, Kassandra and team for the smooth management. They are wonderful organisers!“

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dominic Uni Of Ghana Credit Coop
Mr. Dominic Adjei-Kyereh
Treasurer
University of Ghana Co-operative Credit Union

“This is my first time in Singapore. It is a beautiful city. My board members and I would be here for a total of 10 days to learn from the conference while enjoying the attractions here!”

The article was first published in the Co-operator (October- December 2010 issue).

Co-operatives have a major role to play in helping our society to be more cohesive, resilient and self-reliant. The challenge for the Co-operative Movement is to remain relevant to society today and make an impact on the daily lives of the individual members and the community at large.
- Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon

Co-operatives in Singapore need to identify areas of priority, bearing in mind the nation’s social challenges, while the Government plays its role to support these entities with a social mission.


These aspirations for the local Co-operative Movement are mooted by then Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, who has had a long history of involvement with co-operatives.

Mrs Yu Foo 1Mrs Yu-Foo, one of Singapore’s second-generation women Members of Parliament (MPs), is a keen supporter of the Co-operative Movement, having been on the boards of various co-operatives. During her 25 years of close affinity with SNCF, she served wholeheartedly on its Board of Trustees, and later chaired the Board and the Central Co-operative Fund (CCF) Committee. In recognition of her important contributions to the growth and development of the Singapore Co-operative Movement, the Rochdale Medal was conferred on Mrs Yu-Foo by SNCF in 1997.

In an interview with Co-operator, she says: “Co-operatives have a major role to play in helping our society to be more cohesive, resilient and self-reliant. The challenge for the Co-operative Movement is to remain relevant to society today and make an impact on the daily lives of the individual members and the community at large.”

She identifies a potential area of growth for co-operatives as providing services to the elderly. Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations in Southeast Asia.

Mrs Yu-Foo outlines some of the needs of Singapore’s ageing population – active ageing and employment, living arrangements and healthcare. In addition, there is a need to train caregivers and the young on how to look after their parents, and to generally raise awareness in this area. Co-operatives can reach out to the elderly and provide tremendous value-add by offering services that cater to the needs of this sector of our community.

NTUC FairPrice Co-operative, the nation’s trusted co-operative supermarket retailer, is an example of a co-operative that has been reaching out to the elderly by providing elder-friendly incentives. Since 2002, this Co-operative has been extending a 2% discount to senior shoppers aged 60 years and above when they shop on Tuesdays. This is to provide financial relief for senior citizens, who are no longer working and earning an income. It also serves to encourage senior citizens to shop for the family and promotes an active lifestyle for seniors as well as cohesive family bonding. On average, about 40,000 senior citizens enjoy this discount every Tuesday at FairPrice stores.

“Co-operatives can work with the Government to identify the needs of the elderly community and provide services to meet their needs,” she adds.

Mrs Yu-Foo also observes that NTUC First Campus Co-operative, formerly known as NTUC Childcare, has had great impact. And there are increasing efforts in this area to provide better support to working parents.

“Since August 2008, MCYS has been facilitating the development of 200 more child care centres, which will add 20,000 more child care places by March 2013. There are now close to 850 child care centres in Singapore.”

Mrs Yu Foo highlights the need for SNCF to support and develop the co-operatives.

“SNCF plays an increasingly important role amidst all the challenges facing the Co-operative Movement. It is especially critical that SNCF supports the co-operatives and develops their capabilities to not only adapt to the new regulatory requirements, but also to ensure the co-operative members’ interests are looked after.”

Mrs Yu-Foo had joined NTUC to be involved in the setting up of co-operatives – which one of her ex-lecturers had described as “a bloodless revolution” – but was instead assigned to handle industrial relations. She realised her wish later in her career when she was personally involved in the setting up of NTUC Childcare (as it was called then) and NTUC Foodfare Co-operative.

As a former Vice Chairman of NTUC Insurance (NTUC Income Co-operative), board member of NTUC FairPrice Co-operative, and Chairperson of NTUC Childcare, she participated actively in their development and witnessed first-hand how social enterprises, such as these NTUC co-operatives, delivered good business results and at the same time, brought about positive social outcomes by addressing several social needs – “doing well, doing good”.

Another milestone of the Singapore Co-operative Movement was the passing of the Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Act in September 2008, to further strengthen co-op governance, and to subject credit co-operatives to a higher level of regulatory supervision and prudence. Mrs Yu-Foo notes that with good governance, credit co-operatives can continue to play an important social role of encouraging their members to save and providing loans to those in need of financial assistance.

As co-operatives remain true to their social purpose, another important task lies ahead for the Co-operative Movement: Attracting more talents as human capital is a key enabler for success. For the business of co-operatives to be sustainable, Mrs Yu Foo is of the view that “professionals can help to run co-operatives as volunteers and as employees. But they must be professionals with just as much passion as the social entrepreneurs themselves. This is because co-operatives also need the best to grow and succeed. Brain power and ideas can be borrowed by inviting professionals and successful entrepreneurs to sit on the boards of co-operatives.”

She reminisces: “There have been many successful people in the past who have helped in developing co-operatives and seen them flourish – such as Mr Baey Lian Peck, Mr Chin Harn Tong, the late Professor Tom Elliot, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, Mr Sat Pal Khattar, Mr Lim Ho Seng, Dr Aline Wong and many others. What we need is more of such people to step forward to contribute to the co-operative cause.”

Of course, in line with the co-operative way of talent acquisition and retention, SNCF and co-operatives should “raise awareness of the co-operative principles through their activities, so as to motivate talents, who share the Movement’s desire to make a positive difference to people’s lives, to join as fellow co-operators and/or volunteers.”



Learning Tips

  • Co-operatives are encouraged to provide goods and services to meet the needs of the elderly community.
  • Through good governance, credit co-operatives can continue to play a social role of encouraging members to save and providing loans when members need financial help.
  • Co-operatives should involve professionals who are passionate about making a positive difference to help run co-operatives.
  • Co-operatives can borrow brain power and ideas, by tapping on the experience and expertise of professionals and successful entrepreneurs.

cicopa 1
Photo credit: CICOPA

International Organisation of Industrial and Service Co-operatives (CICOPA) has recently published a new “Global Study on Youth Co-operative Entrepreneurship”, as part of its campaign “We own it! The future of work is ours”.

The study is based on desk research and on an online survey involving 64 youth co-operatives in the five continents and shows how – in a world of work deeply reshaped by demographic changes, globalisation, technological innovations and youth unemployment – co-operatives can be a concrete tool in the hands of young people for improving their work and entrepreneurship conditions.

The study reveals a quite fresh and dynamic picture of youth co-operatives who took part in the survey. They are primarily active in the service sector and are highly involved in activities requiring a certain degree of training, specialised knowledge and skills (e.g. telecommunications and information technologies, programming, legal and accounting activities, management, consultancy, research, marketing etc.). In most cases, they are micro or small-sized enterprises and have reported a positive economic performance and increasing or stable trends in job creation in recent years. They reveal gender equity in management positions and are extremely keen to implement new organisational methods in their business practices (e.g. workplace organisation and governance practices).

Their co-operative choice is justified by a mix of value-based and pragmatic motivations: meaningful work (to “work differently”), experience and values-related aspirations, but also concrete need for stable jobs, career opportunities and protection. This picture, albeit partial, strongly suggests that youth co-operatives are riding the wave of changes and represent a valuable and secure option for young entrepreneurs.

The global study also shows how co-operatives can play a crucial role in responding to new challenges introduced by recent work and economic transformations affecting new generations. For example, they can “inject” democracy and participation inside the digital economy, by giving ownership and control of power to the people who use and work through online platforms. Through their participatory governance, they are a laboratory in the hands of young people for the experimentation of innovative and sustainable forms of work management.


However, concludes the study, co-operatives cannot be considered a panacea. Besides the important and increasing involvement coming from the co-operative movement to answer to youth needs, co-operatives are only able to display their full potential if a favourable institutional environment surrounds them. This is particularly true when it comes to providing quality employment and entrepreneurship, which is highly dependent on the institutional frameworks regulating co-operatives, the legal status of young workers and worker-members, but also access to financial resources and user-friendly bureaucracy.

The full report can be accessed here.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) together with the Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF) will be working together to conduct an 8-month study entitled “Strategy for developing and promoting worker and social co-operatives in Singapore” with CICOPA.

The study will be conducted with methods of desk works and a field research, which will involve local partners and experts. It started in June this year and it is hoped that the study will provide information on different national contexts for the development of industrial and service co-operatives so that stakeholders in Singapore might identify appropriate models for their own context.

 

About CICOPA

CICOPA is the international organisation of industrial and service co-operatives and represents 65.000 worker, social and producers’ co-operatives providing 4 million jobs across the world. CICOPA currently has members in 32 countries and 2 regional organisations: CECOP – CICOPA Europe and CICOPA Americas.
For more information: visit http://www.cicopa.coop/

Runninghour CharmaineCharmaine loves running. It is her unwavering passion and obsession. It is one thing to run for yourself, but it takes an entirely different meaning when you make a difference in someone else’s life through running.

Charmaine personally knew the benefits of running but she never thought that others could benefit from her love of the sport, until she heard about the Runninghour Co-operative for the first time, during her first year of study at a junior college.

The running club’s motto – ‘Run to bond, run so others can!’, resonated with this eighteen-year-old avid runner. After hearing that the Runninghour Co-operative promotes integration of persons with special needs through running, she signed up as a volunteer guide.

Joining Runninghour Co-operative as a volunteer became the first step to eye-opening encounters and experiences which has changed Charmaine’s perspective towards the marginalised.


In a span of two years, the weekly sessions which Charmaine volunteered for was a training ground in communications with those who were visually, physically or intellectually challenged. Not only was it a test of patience, there were moments when Charmaine felt that her efforts were in vain.

I recall an incident, during my early months of volunteering, whereby a beneficiary who was intellectually challenged tripped and fell down upon misinterpreting what I had said when we were negotiating a bumpy path. Nevertheless, we persevered together, and eventually, we learnt to communicate and understand each other better. Since then, we have successfully paired up together in multiple runs and races.


Through her encounters with the beneficiaries, Charmaine has become more compassionate. She truly found her calling to ‘run so others can’.


As a volunteer guide, not only can I pursue my passion in running, it gives me even more joy to witness the success of someone who would otherwise not have discovered his or her strengths and capabilities.


Runninghour Charmaine 2Till this day, Charmaine is grateful to the team from the Runninghour Co-operative who had visited her school to raise awareness about co-operatives as well as conduct training sessions on tips to communicate with those with special needs. She benefitted from the programme and would like to encourage people out there who wish to volunteer with the Runninghour Co-operative to keep an open mind and embrace working with people who struggle with various forms of disability.



Runninghour Co-operative Limited
is a sports co-operative that promotes integration of persons with special needs through running. It has members who are mildly intellectually challenged, physically challenged and visually challenged. Anyone passionate about running is welcome to join as running guides.

For more enquiries, call 90505398 or email: [email protected]our.com.

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Singapore National Co-operative Federation
510 Thomson Road #12-02
SLF Building, Singapore 298135
Email: [email protected]
Tel (65) 6602 0747, Fax (65) 6259 9577

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