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Coop helps vendors in Carbon market

First Posted 14:31:00 01/26/2009

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CEBU CITY, Philippines - Rich history and wads of money make up some of the important pieces of the colorful world of the Carbon market.

But what weave these pieces together are the sturdy and united Carbon market vendors, who were able to survive in the market?s fast-paced business environment.

Various challenges hound these vendors but the threat in the 1990s to phase out the market due to plans to make Cebu more urbanized, galvanized them to form a united front.

And so was born the Carbon Market Vendors Development Cooperative (Cemvedco) in 2000.

?From three primary cooperatives, we decided to come together and form one coop,? said Mal Soco, one of the prime movers of Cemvedco and currently chairman of the mediation committee.

Three cooperatives ? Carbon Market Unit One Vendors Multipurpose Cooperative, Unit 2 Carbon Stallholders Multipurpose Cooperative and Alliance of Third Unit Carbon Market Multipurpose Cooperative ? were consolidated in 2002 to form Cemvedco.

Cemvedco has 1,800 members at present.

The road to consolidating the three cooperatives was more than difficult. To some, it was near impossible, said outgoing Cemvedco chairman Erwin Gok-ong.

?There are three coops with three sets of members, each are popular in their own way. The challenge was how to make these people realize the need to sacrifice for the common good,? Gok-ong said.

The series of planning sessions and meetings were held between 2000 and 2002 before officers and members finalize the consolidated cooperative.

?It (consolidation) arises from the need to be united in the face of the plan to remove Carbon from the map of Cebu. We need to strengthen our financial and political position in Cebu,? he told Cebu Daily News.

There was no turning back after 2002 when the Cooperative Development Authority formally recognized Cemvedco.

Unlike other cooperatives, however, Chapter 2 vice chairman Jesus Lim, said Cemvedco operated on a reverse model in growing a cooperative.

Instead of pooling the money of small vendors, Lim said the more well-off Carbon vendors put together money to lend to the smaller ones.

Six years after the cooperative was established, Cemvedco considers itself as one of the successful cooperatives in Cebu.

?We are running the cooperative like a business enterprise. We see to it that those who need money are not the people who handle the cooperative?s money because that can lead to graft and corruption,? Lim said.

The cooperative is currently involved in financing and marketing business. Marketing is done through Cemvedco?s hog stall inside the market. The cooperative also provides lending services to members.

Due to able and honest leaders, director Victoriano Pagador said the cooperative is consistently able to achieve its target every year.

In 2008, Cemvedco was able to hit its targeted P70 million worth of total assets and liabilities. This is an increase of 40 percent from 2007?s P50 million.

There are now 15 full-time and regular staff members that tend to the cooperative's office in M.C. Briones Street, Barangay (village) Ermita, Cebu City.

These consist of collectors, bookkeepers, loan officers, IT administrator, accounts officer and internal auditor among others.

Cemvedco director Arien Good said the cooperative continues to be successful because of the genuine commitment of its officers, staff and members.

?A successful cooperative should have good leaders, who have principles and the integrity to stand by. We are fortunate in Cemvedco that we don?t have corrupt and opportunistic leaders,? Good said.

Pagador said transparency and accountability are two important ingredients in the success story of Carbon.

?We have a system and it?s being followed,? he said.

Gok-ong said the board of directors follows a single principle in running the cooperative.

?Walay kwarta sa coop nga mosulod sa imong bulsa (Money from the cooperative will not go to your pockets). Most cooperatives fail because they have corrupt leaders. In Cemvedco, we are vigilant to take notice of this,? he said.

While some government officials seemed to have put the Carbon market in the backstage of Cebu?s rich heritage, Cemvedco officers said they will fight for the continued existence of Carbon.

Cemvedco is spending at least P600,000 per year to maintain peace and order, while spending another P600,000 per year to take care of the market?s sanitation and drainage concerns.

Carbon market may be downtown Cebu?s inconvenient version of the posh supermarket in malls, but to the vendors, it?s their precious gem in the very heart of Cebu.

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