By ‘Muso Nkhasi and Nthabiseng Ratalane
Bam Group Foundation hosted an event for cooperatives where the Ministry of Trade, Business Development and Tourism were also present to provide guidance to existing cooperatives and upcoming ones.
In Lesotho, multiple cooperative are established but majority of them fail due to lack of understanding cooperative of what a cooperative is about. Cooperatives are governed by seven principles; namely voluntarian open membership, democratic member control, member economic participation, independence and autonomy, education, training and information to cooperatives, cooperation among members and concern for the community. Cooperatives must fully oblige/commit to these principles for their succession.
Education, Training and Information element to cooperatives is very vital, it is encouraged that they meet on a regular and host information sessions and training for their members to educate them in depth about cooperatives and the rules governing them.
Cooperatives can unite and produce in large quantities. They can further seek government intervention with regard to the importation of goods in Lesotho. An example of poultry farming was raised where all Basotho in poultry farming can unite and form a cooperative and become sole suppliers of chicken for Basotho, provided they can meet the demand.
The guest speaker, Mr Palo Mohapi, from the Ministry of Trade, Business Development and Tourism advised cooperatives to utilise they products in their households and lead by example, become their own target market.
He further indicated that most cooperatives fail because they lack support, as most people prefer foreign brands.
Cooperatives were reminded that their sole mandate is to maximize services delivery not to focus on profit maximizing and must always bear that in mind when doing their pricing. Elevated pricing will only result in a lack of demand for local products, to obtain market sustainability.
Mr Mohapi warned cooperatives to not accept or requests donations because sustainability cannot be achieved through them .