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Tapping into cooperatives

Article taken from Barbados TODAY News – July 7th, 2022

The Co-operatives Department within the Ministry of Business Development is expected to ramp up efforts to get more people joining and benefitting from the co-operative movement in Barbados.

This indication has come from Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Ministry of Business Development Sandra Husbands.

Describing the Co-operatives Department as one of the “best-kept secrets” on the island, Husbands said she was hoping for renewed and more invigorated training in financial literacy among the population, public awareness campaigns as well as a showcasing of initiatives being carried out by the co-operative movement in order to get more residents aware of the benefits.

“We trust that by doing so, we will be able to encourage more Barbadians to join co-operatives so that we are able to do what we need to do.

“We have co-operatives in farming, we’ve got the co-operatives where they are sustaining building and development and what we want to be able to do is to spread that further and have other interest groups,” explained Husbands.

“If we can get that spread across Barbados our small businesses can do much better and the individual will have a greater variety of opportunities for investing in things that can help them build asset and wealth in this country,” she said.

Her comments came during a recent tour of a housing project at Heritage Estates, Work Hall, St Philip, the first project of the Co-operative Investment Fund (CIF) of the Co-operative Department.

The project was carried out under its Property Development Fund component of the CIF. There is also an Innovation and Technology Fund component.

The CIF, which was formed in May 2020, seeks to harmonise the financial resources of the cooperatives sector and identify specific areas for investment of those pooled resources to benefit members.

Husbands said the CIF is expected to introduce some financial literacy training options to “help the average Barbadian who has some savings on the banking system currently getting dissavings, because they are actually paying out more to have their money taken care of than they are earning in interest”.

“We want to be able to offer opportunities to them to be able to put their money into things that will allow them to earn more interest and also participate in whatever wealth generation is taking place within this country,” she said.

“One of the things that the ministry overall will be doing, we want to be able to examine what are all of the various initiatives that come up that provide opportunities and to be able to educate the average Barbadian on what they are, how they can participate, what are the potential benefits and then give them the financial literacy training so that they can manage their assets and manage their investments and therefore become part of whatever prosperity that Barbados is able to generate over the next five to ten years,” said Husbands.

(MM)

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