The Cooperative Movement in Zambia has expressed concern on how Cooperatives have become a fertile ground for mobilization by politicians.
Speaking on Tuesday’s edition of Let the People Talk program on Phoenix FM, Global Entrepreneurship Network Managing Director Edwin Zulu noted with concern that politicians are using Cooperatives for political expediency as opposed to mobilizing people to form Cooperatives for business purposes.
Mr. Zulu explained that Cooperatives in turn align themselves to politicians, thereby affecting the performance of the Cooperative.
“This is contributing to the killing of the Cooperative movement in Zambia because most of them are politically inclined,” he said
He disclosed that an entrepreneurship mindset is one aspect that has been missing in the Cooperative movement in Zambia, adding that entrepreneurship is not just about making money but entrepreneurship is about identifying problems and coming up with business solutions.
“6th December, 2022, has been dedicated for industries, colleges, universities, and TEVETA institutions to come together as we want to teach especially lecturers and teachers to do away with teaching what they cannot do, we want them to translate their knowledge into business and projects, as they will be linked to businesses and industries, and everyone needs to embrace the new way of doing things,” he disclosed
“In partnership with the Ministry of Education, we have launched Leaners Entrepreneurship Community Challenge or Awards, where every child in every school is challenged to identify one challenge and come up with idea that will be actualized into projects at various levels” he added
Mr. Zulu mentioned that their organization will soon establish a formal Memorandum of Understanding – MoU with the Zambia Cooperative Federation to have shared activities throughout the year, just like they have been working with other stakeholders such as the Lusaka Chamber of Commerce, for it is their value to ensure that all players in the eco system are working in close collaboration because they all have an agenda of effectively saving the Small and Medium Enterprises – SMEs.
The Global Entrepreneurship Network Zambia is a global institution that focuses on promoting entrepreneurship, and building a single institution and global eco system of stakeholders in the entrepreneurship innovation space, it’s also a platform that provides that provides an opportunity for public sector, private sector, Non-Governmental Organization – NGOs, Civil Societies and other Corporates that are involved in economic development activities, the organization also offers a single platform that these entities can showcase various activities and work together to enhance value for money and value for startups businesses and overall economic transformation for a country such as Zambia. The organization has its Headquarters in Washington DC, with Chapters in about 180 countries.
And speaking on the same program, Zambia Cooperative Federation Executive Director James Chirwa is of the view that cooperatives that should access funds from the constituency development fund are those that are already operating and in need of additional funds for them to improve.
“You don’t form a Cooperative by way of getting handouts, Cooperatives are never formed with money from somewhere else such as a loan, donor, or the government,” he said
Mr. Chirwa mentioned that Cooperatives are experiencing failure despite all the funds that they receive for the promotion of Cooperatives by the government because that’s not the way Cooperatives are formed.
He explained that a Cooperative is an independent association of persons who are united voluntarily who want to meet their economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations by forming a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise, adding that an institution needs to be established for the purpose of addressing economic and social challenges.
Mr. Chirwa further explained that a Cooperative doesn’t end on description as it has a set of things such as Ethics that need to be observed in order to qualify to be a Cooperative, ethics must be observed by any person intending to form a Cooperative, as members of any Cooperative are required to be open and honest with each other, it also needs to have something to do with social responsibility and caring for others, as a Cooperative needs to have a positive bearing on the community where the Cooperative is operating from.
The Zambia Cooperative Federation is an organization that was registered in 1973, whose mandate is to promote the development of Cooperatives in Zambia, the organization acts as a representative voice for the Cooperative movement in Zambia, it also provides lobbying services for policies and other benefits that contribute to the development of sustainable Cooperatives in the country.