President Jakaya Kikwete has assured cooperative unions of government support in their plan to establish their own bank, saying it would enable them to secure loans on soft terms.
Kikwete made the call yesterday at the opening ceremony to mark International Year of Cooperatives held in Dar es Salaam, urging the cooperatives to work hard in restoring the glory of the movement in the country.
The celebrations were also marked by exhibitions, which gave an opportunity to marginalised groups such as women and youths to showcase their activities so that they can be empowered.
Kikwete said that cooperative unions should focus on activities which enhanced their work and try to avoid the mistakes that led to their collapse in the past.
He said: “Through the bank I believe that cooperative groups will improve their economic status and their total lives.”
He however urged the unions to recruit enlightened and committed leaders who would fight for the development of their members.
Kikwete urged them to review the shortfalls which led to the collapse of cooperatives in the past and learn to run the movement better this time around.
Despite the advice, he also told cooperative leaders to be professional in running their Saving and Credit Cooperative Societies projects for them to get more profit.
“The revenue collected by the government through Saccos has reached 564bn/-. So why should we fail to establish a cooperative bank when the capital needed for its establishment is 5bn/-…the bank must be established this year,” Kikwete stressed.
He urged the Cooperative leaders to learn from their Kenya colleagues who had already established a cooperative bank. He noted that they can establish a sustainable bank which will help small holders and people with low capital.
Kikwete added that the government will support cooperative union by empowering their leaders with more knowledge at the Moshi Univesity College of Cooperative and Business Studies (MUCCoBS).
For his part the Director of International Labour Organisation (ILO) for East African Countries Alexio Musindo said that ILO is supported cooperatives to build economic development of the excluded majority including women and youths.
He said that ILO intended to raise public awareness in economic development through contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.
“We provide a good support through economic empowerment, we regulate the cooperative economy and regulate their economic development,” Musindo said.
For his part chairman of the Tanzania Federation Cooperatives Hassan Wakasuvi asked the government to provide good infrastructure to help small scale farmers to easily transport their products to the market.
Wakasuvi added that Saccos made very low profit calling on banks to offer loans at soft terms.
However, the cooperative alliance that had opened its business in November last year aimed at helping the excluded majority, including women and youths group works to show their activities and to make capacity building.
According to the Director and Assistant Registrar of cooperative societies Peter Kasuga the cooperative societies faced challenges in encouraging people to rediscover the importance of cooperative unions.
Kasuga said the first aim would be to build understanding among the cooperative groups to understand that they can depend on themselves to earn their living without polluting the environment.
He said: “We want to rebuild the public understanding of cooperatives and to assure them that it is profitable. At the same time we have to remove the old concept that it was for political benefit of a few people.” "Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility,” Kasuga said.