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Liberating the Poor from Poverty

Oro Savings & Sharing Coop Empowers Communities

It has been said that a strong army can conquer a kingdom but that the strongest army in the world cannot stop an idea whose time has come. That “idea” has indeed come in a land oozing with so much ecological wealth but is paradoxically afflicted with high prevalence of poverty. Where social exclusion prevails because people are dis-empowered, that “idea” attacks the root cause of poverty, thus, cutting the bond of oppression and in effect, draws the marginalized sectors into the mainstream of development processes.

Amidst the darkness of economic difficulties, cooperatives shine through, looming as the anti-dote against poverty and are now on a groundswell. This is so because the time-honored and universally-accepted cooperative principles and values of participation, democratic control and societal concern have indeed come of age to transform a highly skewed and stratified societal order.

This is evident in Northern Mindanao where cooperatives have metamorphosed into a micro-economy in its own right. The one thousand five hundred active cooperatives in the region with over a million members have become a development force contributing over P20 billion to the region’s P200 billion volume of business annually. But the wonderful world of cooperativism does not just thrive on socially-oriented business alone. Most importantly, the economic endeavors serve aptly well in the deliverance of the poor members from the clutches of the usurers, from the dominant banking system that considers them “non-bankables,” from unemployment and from the vicious cycle of poverty.

This truism is exemplified in the life of the Oro Savings & Sharing Cooperative that continues to make its significant mark in making life better for all its 13,370 members. Indeed, it has gone a long way since it was organized 27 years ago when 50 low income women came and pooled their resources together with the support of Atty. Mordino Cua. From its meager capital of P35,000 in 1995, Oro Savings is now operating with Three Hundred Twenty Four Million Peso-Capital for the financial services of its enterprising members in six branches.

So, what makes the Oro Savings tick? It is the combination of good governance, management adroitness and the high dedication and commitment of officers and members, highly adhering to the tenets of cooperativism. To scale the heights further, Madam Clemencia Q. Neri, the Chairperson of the Board of Directors, sees the vast area for growth, to meet the challenges head-on for the cooperative “to strive to bring forth change and development, to render efficient, effective and quality service to the members and to the communities.”

Chief Operating Officer, COO Maricel Agan, attributes the cooperative’s good performance to its excellent services to its members, stating that, “while other lenders are tightening their loan guidelines and restricting their loan funds, Oro Savings continues to offer loans, and has increased marketing efforts to fulfill the members’ borrowing needs.”

Oro Savings has indeed shown the way on how to unfetter the marginalized sectors – the farmers, the fisherfolk, the women, the lowly paid workers, the indigenous people – from the despair of economic want. It has exemplified the essence of the collectivist counterculture to rectify social and economic flaws and thus, effect the much needed social transformation. Indeed, it is only through empowerment can the people craft their own destiny and effect social change.

When the poor put their hard-earned money in their cooperative, the collective fund becomes a liberating force as the borrowers, once idle but have skills, are capacitated to pursue economic activities, thus, making them productive members of society. Where employment is absent, the cooperative generates jobs; where there is despair, it gives hope; where there is oppression, it lays the clear path towards liberation.

That nurturing spirit that flows through cooperativism goes beyond the love for the kindred; it is also harnessed to protect God’s vanishing creation. Oro Savings always has a ready hand to rehabilitate the impaired ecosystems. It does not hesitate to give assistance to victims of ecological degradations, always ready to help the helpless and the downtrodden.

More power to Oro Savings & Sharing Cooperative for exemplifying to the highest degree the essence of a transformative cooperative for People, Planet, Prosperity & Peace.

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