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147 young cooperators representing 17 countries congregated in Cebu, The Philippines from August 18-21, to participate in the second Asia Pacific Co-operative Youth Summit. The theme of this year’s Summit was Creative Skills, Co-operative Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development. The main venue for the Summit was the gorgeous Hidden Valley Mountain Resort located in Pinamungajan, Cebu, owned and run by Lamac Multi-purpose Co-operative, member of ICA Member, VICTO National. This specific venue was chosen to symbolize the victory of the team from Lamac, Ms. Justine Limocon and Mr. Kevin Palson, at the first Coop Pitch competition, as part of the first youth summit that took place in Bali, Indonesia in 2016. Coop Pitch (or Co-operative Pitch) is a unique co-operative business ideas contest where young cooperators pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, and the winners are chosen on the basis of a pre-determined evaluation criterion.  Lamac’s winning entry was their idea of Youth Engagement in Organic Farm Tourism. However, they didn’t just stop at the idea and created thriving organic farming facilities including cacao production, coir products, rice plantations etc.


The delegates were given a grand welcome by the Municipality of Pinamungajan headed by their Mayor Hon. Glenn F. Baricuatro. The team had put together a lovely traditional dance performance followed by a scrumptious dinner and a press conference with the local media persons. The following two days at the Hidden Valley Mountain Resort were a mixture of exciting cultural performances, panel discussions and the much awaited Coop Pitch 2.0! The delegates had a wonderful surprise in the form of Ms. Zoe Clavel, an 11-year old from the SPED Integrated School for Exceptional Children (SPED-ISEC), Iloilo, The Philippines. Ms. Clavel is a star saver of the Aflatoun Program; an initiative thriving in the Philippines with support from NATCCO, an ICA-AP member.


Delegates on their way to the Welcome Dinner. Photograph credit: LGU Pinamungajan


This year we continued the tradition of inviting young and inspiring speakers who shared their co-operative journeys. We were joined by Ms. Trinh Thi Ly of the Sinh Duoc Herbal Cooperative, Vietnam, who spoke of the herbal products her co-operative manufactures, and how they’re contributing to sustainable production in their community. Ms. Kanupriya Saigal from BeePositive, India trains rural women to become professional beekeepers and create and sell products including honey, medicines etc. via beekeeping co-operatives. We were also joined by the Chocolate Queen of Cebu, Ms. Raquel Choa, who treated everyone to her motivational journey of setting up a successful chocolate empire and putting the Philippines back on the global map w.r.t cacao production.


This year’s Coop Pitch saw 12 finalists representing eight countries, and mentored one-on-one by a group of experienced co-operators from the Asia Pacific and global co-operative movements. The finalists then presented their fine-tuned ideas in front of a panel of five judges where they were grilled on five parameters: compliance with co-operative principles, scalability, innovation, presentation skills and relevance to youth. The winner of Coop Pitch was Mr. Ng Jun Long from Singapore representing the Skyla Energy Cooperative for their idea of producing solar energy and selling it directly to individual households. The second prize was shared by Ms. Trinh Thi Ly of the Sinh Duoc Herbal Cooperative, Vietnam, and the Mifly Airline Cooperative from China. Mifly’s idea was to build a ‘Green Drone-enabled Agriculture Network’, using drones for multiple purposes including crop-dusting and spraying seeds. Two honourable mentions were made for the Koperasi ‘Kopma UGM’ team from Indonesia, and the Iloilo City Public Schools Teachers and Employees-Multi-Purpose Cooperative, from the Philippines.


One of the key highlights of the Summit was the rural immersion program planned by Lamac for the delegates. They were divided into teams and sent to five separate locations to cover the organic farming initiatives set up by the co-operative. Upon reaching each location they were given tasks like creating vermi-compost,  learning how to transplant rice saplings, feeding cattle, using coir to create strings which would be used to make bags, hats etc. All these tasks were to be done within a stipulated time and the team that completed all tasks properly within the least amount of time, won first prize!


Completing a task during the rural immersion program


All smiles at the end of the four-day Summit


Day three of the Youth Summit took us to the picturesque Oslob where we had the golden opportunity to view and swim with the friendly whale sharks! The adventure-laden day ended with an awe-inspiring cultural evening and dinner at Cebu’s Provincial Capitol hosted by none other than the gracious Governor Hon. Hilario P. Davide III and his wife. The last day of the Summit concluded with a panel discussion on ‘Placing Youth at the Centre of SDGs’ with interesting presentations made about leveraging technology to monitor work undertaken by co-operatives for SDGs, sustainable agricultural practices, achieving youth-centric SDG targets through the Aflatoun Program amongst others. The Closing Ceremony was graced by Mr. Tomas Leonor known for his widely popular Step Juan program wherein he has trekked thousands of miles across the Philippines to raise awareness and funds for children with cancer! Mr. Daniel Ang, CEO, of the Philippines Cooperative Center implored the young delegates to do more with the opportunity they had of utilizing the co-operative model to affect social change. The Summit concluded with a promise to take forward the momentum that had been built by both the first and second Summits and meet again with fresh ideas and collaborations in 2020!


You can catch the main highlights of the Summit by watching the video here.