Speaking during the International Cooperatives Day celebrations in Durban, the South Africa's Minister of Trade Rob Davies said there was lack of support from South Africans for cooperatives growth.
“Too many people in South Africa think of cooperatives as something akin to welfare and charity,” stated Davies in a press statement sent to ABN Digital
Davies added that while there is no clear guidelines as to what defines a group as a cooperative, they are known as creative enterprises that have the potential to contribute enormously to the country’s economy due to their accessibility and links to various sectors of the economy.
The South Africa Cooperatives Act No 14 of 2005 describe a cooperative as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic and social needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise organized and operated on cooperative principles.
While the public displays a lack of interest in the cooperative model, Davies assured that the government, particularly the DTI, has contributed immensely to the development and enhancement of cooperatives in South Africa.
Government initiatives such as the Cooperative Incentive Scheme have benefitted 315 cooperatives to a total of 84 million rand in the last financial year alone.
“Other than grants that we disperse to cooperatives through the incentive scheme, we assist them in gaining access to both international and regional markets. For instance, 150 cooperatives were assisted in this regard last year,” added Davies.
Additionally, the Cooperatives Act of 2005 will be amended in order to establish three cooperative support institutions such as the Cooperatives Development Agency which will provide financial and non-financial support, the Cooperatives Academy which will provide education and training, and the Cooperatives Tribunal, that will offer a judicious management support system.
Davies admits, however, that all these initiatives are not enough as great challenges still remained.
“There is a lot of work that still needs to be done in South Africa to ensure that cooperatives in the country occupy the same position in the economy as cooperatives do in other countries, exclaimed Davies.
Speaking at the same event, the President of the South African Apex Cooperative (Sanaco) Lawrence Bale, added that the potential of cooperatives as a form of business was still to be realised in South Africa.
He pledged that Sanaco would support the governments’ efforts to increase the number of cooperatives in the country and that partnerships were already being forged with other international and regional organisations.