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From February 26- March 1, 2019, the Imus Cooperative Federation (ICF) conducted a benchmarking activity with University and Youth Cooperatives in Indonesia. This activity was organized through the efforts of the ICA Committee on Youth Cooperation (ICYC) under the leadership of Mr. Santosh Kumar and the passionate coordination of Ms. Anis Saadah. With this activity, ICF intends to learn how Indonesia operates its University and Youth Cooperatives in order to implement the same in the Philippines as well as to facilitate possible cooperative-to-cooperative product exchange.

 

 

Right off the airport, the Philippine delegates were received by Ms. Anis and were directly taken to the SME Tower in Jakarta. The delegates met Mr. Ilham Nasai of the Indonesian Cooperative Council (DEKOPIN) and Mr. Pendi Yusop, President of KOPINDO (Indonesian Youth Cooperative) together with some of the young leaders of member cooperatives of KOPINDO. The Philippine delegation was eager to learn what KOPINDO is all about and the activities that its member cooperatives undertake. The Philippines has yet to establish youth cooperatives but Mr. Pendi’s discussion made them visualize how a national federation of youth cooperatives may be able to empower and develop such cooperatives. The discussion was also joined by Ms. Mirah Ayu, Manager of the SME Tower where products coming from all over Indonesia are available for showcase and purchase. The establishment of such an institution greatly benefits entrepreneurs whose products would otherwise not be made available to the consumers. It was teeming with great products.

 

On Day Two the Philippine delegation visited IKOPIN University – a university wholly owned by cooperatives! The warm welcome of the leadership of IKOPIN University, then led by Vice Rector for Human Resource and General Affairs Dandan Irawan under the authority of Rector Dr. HC. Burhanuddin Abdullah, signaled that the visit to Indonesia is a guaranteed success. After introductions made by ICF and IKOPIN about each organization, discussions were opened regarding the state of cooperative movement in both the Philippines and Indonesia. Both agreed that while the cooperative movement is inching its way to the mainstream business environment, the best investment would be to introduce children and youth to the cooperative business model. The discussion culminated through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that each party would exert all reasonable efforts to advance cooperative learning through various activities which include internships and student exchanges. Rector Abdullah was represented by Dr. Yuanita Idriani, Vice Rector of Research and Cooperation and the Philippine delegation was represented by Dr. Emmanuel Santiaguel.

 

 

After the MOU signing, the Philippine delegates were given a tour around the campus. The delegates were in awe of the University. Not only was it spacious, it also hosted a quite a number of trees which made the place cooler. The delegates were made to sit in several classes which taught the students about cooperative concepts in a formal academic setting. This type of cooperative education is rare in the Philippines. What swept the Philippine delegation off their feet was the session where the students themselves held a consultation meeting about a mobile application being developed by the students which would ease the transactions that they undertook in the university. A system made by the students to address the very concerns which faced their community. Modern problems indeed need modern solutions. This is how cooperatives of the future will look like. This is how you make the youth engage in cooperativism. Make cooperatives address their concerns.

 

IKOPIN University is also proud of its Business Incubator Program. Under this program, student entrepreneurs are mentored in the creation, development, and marketing of various products and inventions its students may come up with. This type of program is exactly what the Philippine delegation is looking to replicate. As it stands, the Eskwela Kooperatiba (EK) program of Imus, Cavite, Philippines engages children and youth to the cooperative philosophy while teaching them the value of thrift and savings. City Mayor Emmanuel L. Maliksi wants the EK program to take the next step by having students undertake entrepreneurial activities. The Business Incubator Program of IKOPIN fits the description laid out by Mayor Maliksi and will surely be replicated in the City of Imus.

 

Finally, the delegation visited two youth cooperatives from universities in the Bandung area – Unibersidad Pasundan (UNPAS) and Unibersitas Islam Bandung (UNISBA). After some discussions about how they operate their cooperatives and the possibility of an exchange of products, the ICF were taken to the business operation of the Cooperatives. As expected, the place was swarming with students whom the cooperative business catered to. The delegates were also impressed with the office of the youth cooperative. It was small but the walls carried the target income of each business they had. Before being sent off, the delegates were served with the original Seblak found in Bandung – a true treat for those who enjoy spicy food.

 

To cap off the visit, the Philippine delegation was taken to a city tour of Bandung and souvenir shopping at Rupa Rupi. Lovely handicrafts, exquisite goods, and special memories were taken back to the Philippines. The learnings acquired in the three-day excursion were priceless. Though the visit ended, it became a starting point of a mutually beneficial and beautiful relation between the Philippines and Indonesia for developing youth cooperatives.

 

 

The Philippine delegates owed the success of the visit to the people without whom this activity would not have been possible: Mr. Santosh Kumar who prompted and supported the conduct of the activity; Mr. Pendi Yusop who went out of his way to be with the delegation even after the session allotted for KOPINDO and continuously offered his services and expertise for a better result of the activities; the various organizations, especially IKOPIN and the Youth Cooperatives, who dedicated their precious time to educate the ICF; Ms Heira Hardiyanti, Ms. Raisa Humaira and Ms. Della Martcica who ensured the delegates were attended to whenever they had questions; and especially Ms. Anis Saadah of the ICYC who was with us all throughout and dedicated her time and effort even before the start of the activity.

 

The ICF delegation was led by Dr. Emmanuel Santiaguel and was composed of Mr. Mario Sauquillo (Chairperson), Dr. Belma Villanueva (Vice Chairperson), Ms. Lizzie Gonzales (Board Member), Mr. Mike Ligon (Board Member), Ms. Avel Lopez (Board Member), Ms. Elaine Martin (Board Secretary), Mr. Deo Medina (Treasurer), Mr. Marx Delmo (Manager), and Ms. Jen Gandia (Staff). Dr. Santiaguel, Mr. Delmo and Ms. Gandia are also working under the Cooperative Development Office of the City Government of Imus, Cavite, Philippines.