The Mauritian Cooperative Movement
Mauritius adopted the cooperative formula at the dawn of the 20th century in order to alleviate poverty amongst some sections of the population.
The first cooperative society was registered in the sugar-cane sector in 1913 to reduce the dependence of the small cane planters on private money lenders and brokers. These cooperative societies (Co-operative Credit Societies) were set up to provide credit and marketing facilities to the small cane planters.
People recognized the potential of cooperatives in enabling them to improve their standard of living and moving up the social ladder.
With time, cooperatives diversified and after more than 105 years of existence, the movement has expanded considerably and encompasses many different socio-economic activities.
Cooperatives in Mauritius and Rodrigues consist of about 81,000 active members grouped in some 700 active cooperative societies and having a turnover of Rs3 billion.
WHY FORM A COOPERATIVE?
· Increasing bargaining power
· Sharing cost of production
· Empowerment of members
· Gaining access to new markets
· Sharing of risks
· Purchasing in bulk to achieve lower prices
· Providing credit under reasonable terms
· Providing opportunities for employment
Structure and Organisation of Cooperative Movement
The Cooperative Movement in Mauritius and Rodrigues has a three-tier structure:
a) tertiary cooperative society, comprising secondary cooperatives;
b) secondary cooperatives, comprising primary cooperatives; and
c) primary cooperatives.
The Mauritius Cooperative Alliance Ltd
16 Cooperative Federations
Some 700 active Cooperative Societies
The Organization of Cooperative Societies
Cooperative societies in Mauritius are autonomous organizations, regulated by the Co-operatives Act 2016.
A primary cooperative society may be formed with at least five members and a minimum share capital of Rs5,000.
The Cooperative Societies are owned and managed by their members. The Board of the cooperative is elected by the members at the Annual General Meeting of the society.
The Main Economic Activities undertaken by Cooperative Societies
· Production and marketing of sugar cane, vegetables, fruits, tea and other food crops.
· Fishing, processing and marketing of marine produce.
· Livestock breeding.
· Public transport.
· Thrift, savings and credit facilities.
· Wholesale and retail of consumer goods.
Emerging Sectors: Bio-farming, Organic Farming, Recycling and Production of Green Energy using Photovoltaic System.
Cooperatives account for:
Ø 65% of onion production
Ø 70% of fresh green vegetable production
Ø 45% of potato production
Ø 10% of national sugar production -40% of sugar-cane planters are grouped in cooperatives
Ø 40% of the national bus transport
Also, the Cooperative Credit Unions sector comprises some 152 societies with an active membership of around 64,000 and accounts for a turnover of around Rs1.2 billion.
Cooperatives to become financially and functionally autonomous.
Cooperatives to adopt new management and accounting techniques.
Cooperatives to target business efficiency and effectiveness while adhering to their social objectives.
Formation of cooperatives in new sectors such as green energy
Formation of cooperatives by women and youth
Appropriate Human Resource Development programmes
More cooperatives to be fairtrade certified
Government and Cooperatives
The Government of Mauritius reckons the importance of the cooperative sector and is therefore encouraging the development of the cooperative movement by providing the appropriate financial, fiscal and policy support.
The Cooperatives Division is thus facilitating the promotion and development of the cooperative movement.
The objectives of the Ministry are to:
- Enforce the cooperative legislation and ensure that cooperatives comply with the provisions of the Cooperatives Act, other related enactments and rules
- Devise and implement policies to ensure the development of a modern, viable and sustainable cooperative movement
- Build capacity of cooperatives through training, provision of incentives and support services.
Strategies of the Ministry
The strategies of the Ministry to achieve its objectives are geared towards consolidating and developing the cooperative movement, empowering cooperators and creating a sustainable environment for cooperatives.
These include the following:
(a) ensuring a conducive legal framework for the development of the cooperative sector;
(b) adherence to the cooperative legislation;
(c) human Resource Development Programmes for cooperatives;
(d) promotion of the concept of ‘cooperatives’;
(e) use of cooperative form of business as a viable organisational option;
(f) providing cooperatives with access to market;
(g) formation of cooperatives in non-traditional, emerging and green sectors;
(h) engendering the cooperative movement;
(i) attracting young persons to the cooperative movement;
(j) promoting cooperative as a vehicle to combat poverty;
(k) encouraging cooperatives to use information technology in their operation; and
(l) setting up of cooperatives in professional and vocational fields.