I forgot it was FIBA Basketball last Friday so a visit to TransCo yielded nothing and no one. Since Government had previously declared a holiday to boost what was already a long weekend, August 28 being National Heroes Day.

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But it yielded a few nice things, a water purifier, Adlai rice and regular rice from FICCO's Quezon City Branch located along Malakas St.

Because I decided to visit. Not really, I decided to visit my classmate's cafe and in front of it was FICCO, or the First Community Cooperative, the largest community cooperative in the Philippines, with its head office based in Cagayan de Oro City.

Today, let's dive into a fascinating aspect of cooperatives that often flies under the radar but plays a crucial role in their success: patronage. What exactly is patronage, and why does it matter?

Understanding Patronage

At its core, patronage in cooperatives refers to the practice of sharing profits or benefits among members based on their participation and contributions to the cooperative. In simpler terms, the more you engage with the cooperative, the more you stand to gain. It's like a cycle of giving and receiving that fosters a sense of ownership, loyalty, and solidarity among members.

Cooperative Principles and Values in Action

Let's see how patronage aligns with cooperative principles and values:

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are open to all who can use their services and accept the responsibilities of membership. Patronage reflects this inclusivity, allowing every member, regardless of their role or contribution, to partake in the benefits.
  2. Democratic Member Control: In cooperatives, members have a say in decision-making processes. Patronage reinforces this democratic spirit, allowing members to collectively decide how profits should be distributed or reinvested.
  3. Member Economic Participation: This principle encourages members to contribute equitably and control the cooperative's capital. Patronage ties directly into this by rewarding members based on their financial involvement.
  4. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations. By practicing patronage, cooperatives demonstrate their independence from external profit-driven influences and prioritize their members' welfare.
  5. Education, Training, and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members. Patronage acts as an educational tool, demonstrating the benefits of active participation within the cooperative.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Patronage encourages cooperation not only within the cooperative but also with other cooperatives. Sharing the benefits nurtures a culture of collaboration that goes beyond individual entities.
  7. Concern for Community: Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities. The practice of patronage can lead to increased funds for community projects or initiatives that align with cooperative values.

Real-World Examples

Let's take a look at a few real-world examples of how patronage comes to life in cooperatives:

  1. Agricultural Cooperatives: Farmers who are members of agricultural cooperatives often receive patronage refunds based on their annual purchases of supplies from the cooperative. The more they buy, the more they earn back.
  2. Credit Unions: In credit unions, members can earn dividends on their savings or receive lower interest rates on loans due to the cooperative's financial success.
  3. Consumer Cooperatives: Imagine a retail cooperative where members get a percentage of their annual purchases as a patronage refund, incentivizing them to buy from the cooperative rather than conventional stores.

A Tip of the Hat to the Rochdale Pioneers

No conversation about cooperatives is complete without a nod to the Rochdale Pioneers. Back in 1844, in Rochdale, England, they laid the foundation for the modern cooperative movement. These visionary individuals championed the principles of democracy, equality, and solidarity, paving the way for practices like patronage that continue to shape cooperatives today.

So, there you have it—patronage in cooperatives is more than just a financial transaction. It's a reflection of cooperative principles in action, a testament to the values that guide these remarkable organizations, and a way to strengthen the bond among members. The next time you enjoy the benefits of a cooperative, as I did, remember that it's the spirit of patronage that's helping build a better world, one cooperative at a time.

Truly, the spirit of Patronage in co-ops unites Principles and People.

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