DAVAO CITY—The country’s cooperatives may shield themselves from external challenges by accelerating their digitalization, according to Traxion Technology Services Cooperative.

Ann Cuisia, chairman of the cooperative, told a gathering of established coops last month in Cebu City that digitizing operations may be the more practical way to ensure that cooperatives would not be affected by external shocks.

“We either digitize or die,” she said, citing the move of top-performing cooperatives worldwide in other countries which use technology to engage their members in important discussions, such as governance and decision-making.

She said adopting technology and applying it in more areas of operations would give cooperatives an edge.

“But how do we future proof the cooperative sector? By partnering with the right technology platforms.”

Director Doreen Ancheta of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-Region 7, told the same gathering that “the pandemic, which constrained our people’s mobility for almost two years now, has intensified the trend toward digitalization”.

“Unfortunately, technological adoption in the local setting is still considered low,” she added. While cooperatives were already following the digitalization trend, she said adaption was “still largely confined to the large ones only”.

The CDA official said digitalization was “a natural progression for cooperative members that are part of the huge, asset-rich cooperatives”.

“But how about the small and micro cooperatives? That is still the challenge for our country,” she said. “In the Philippines, 54 percent of the cooperatives are classified as micro cooperatives. Altogether, they own only 2 percent of all cooperatives’ assets”.

Cuisia said digiCOOP, the digital platform that her cooperative has developed, suits the needs of the cooperatives. Describing it as the first Philippine cooperative-owned technology platform for cooperatives, she said digiCOOP “aims to unite and serve multiple member-cooperative in terms of improving their income streams; and the individual members by building the latter’s own wealth through participation in a lively ecosystem beyond their own cooperative”.

She said digiCOOP business centers are currently being operated by Tekton Entre Multipurpose Cooperative in Cebu City, Sta. Monica Bukidnon Multi-purpose Cooperative in Bukidnon, and San Jose Multi-purpose Cooperative in Antique.

The October 29 gathering of cooperatives in Central Visayas was held at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel in Cebu City. This was also attended by the Perpetual Help Community Cooperative–Dumaguete, Metro Ormoc Community Cooperative, Cebu Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Cordova Multi-Purpose Cooperative, National Teachers and Employees Cooperative Bank, and Mandaue City Public Market Vendors Multi-Purpose Cooperative.

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