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Barbados stresses importance of Co-Op Movement

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) – The creativity of the co-operative movement was on display on Friday when the co-operatives department of the ministry of energy and business hosted its Co-op Mart. And, after touring the stalls on the grounds of Baobab Tower, minister of energy and business, senator Lisa Cummins, praised the innovation of the members.

She said she would like the co-operatives team at her Ministry to continue working with these entrepreneurs and attract others, in an effort to expand the scope of what was being done.

Senator Cummins, stated:

“There are so many people in Barbados doing phenomenal things, some of them individually. This Co-op Mart demonstrates that there’s an opportunity for us to do phenomenal things together in a co-operative movement, to…expand the scale of what we do, and to expand the scope within which we are doing it.

“There are so many challenges we keep talking about…, supply chain issues and difficulty in sourcing materials, difficulty in shipping costs and those kinds of things. The co-operative movement globally, and certainly locally, is designed to be able to respond proactively to those very things. So entrepreneurs, small business people, [and] business people, generally, having those kinds of issues, have an opportunity, I believe, to come work with the ministry to develop cooperatives.”

The minister acknowledged that some people preferred to work solo for various reasons, including a lack of trust in others and bad experiences in the past. However, she underscored the importance of people working together, saying that very few large businesses had done it alone.

“Many large successful businesses all have co-investor partners, and we at the small level have to also begin to accept that in order…to scale up the business models that we are pursuing and to become large enterprises, we too also need co-investors and we need partnerships.

“So, I would want to encourage people rather than…being 100 percent in charge of something really small, you have the opportunity to be 60 percent and 50 percent in something that is pretty significant. And we want to encourage people to work collaboratively with the ministry.”

Senator Cummins said many large businesses which structured their co-investments into a dedicated business had worked with lawyers and transaction advisors, who ensured their interests were protected.

“Really, it is just about pulling together the professional services to protect your interests, but simultaneously move forward in an environment where structured partnerships then lend to trust, and trust lends to expansion, and business expansion leads to scale up and scalability for a lot of our businesses,” the minister pointed out.



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