10 Key Findings about Cooperatives and Their Members in the Philippines.

Key findings from responses received to survey questions addressed both to cooperative members and non-members, it is possible both to understand the members’ perspectives and as relevant to compare their responses to those of non-members. The data from the Philippines Country Study of What Difference Do Cooperatives Make?” show that:

1. Members of Cooperatives enjoy better economic positions: Self-reported income figures of cooperative members as benchmarked against national statistics and against the responses from those in the representative sample are higher overall than those of the general population (see Figure 1 below) — Coop members have greater proportional representation in the top four income bands and lower representation in the bottom band.

Overall, a member of a cooperative has only a 2.3% probability of being poor in comparison to the 4.1% probability of the comparison non-member group.

This means that a coop member is more likely NOT to be poor and more likely to be lower middle or better.
2. Members of Cooperatives say their cooperative is the reason! A substantial majority of cooperative members (94.4%) state that membership in a cooperative has positively affected their economic position. Members also report a sense of financial security and overall well- being. In addition, 74% of non-members state that cooperative activity positively affects the overall economic development of the community.

3. Cooperatives in the Philippines have an excellent record on gender inclusion as perceived by women and men.

4. Cooperative members have greater social capital (as measured by trust) than non-members, although overall trust in the Philippines is comparatively high.
a. 94% of coop members have trust in others in their community
b. 85% of non-members have trust in others in their community with a more significant proportion qualifying that trust than coop members

5. Cooperative members have greater resilience (as measured by access to resources in times of emergency) than non-members.
a. Both cooperative members and non-cooperative members report that they turn primarily to family for support in times of emergency. However, for cooperative members while 77% turn to family in the first instance, 86% turn to the cooperative either directly or through savings which by inference are likely to be correlated with their membership
b. This inference is further supported by the additional finding that 88% of cooperative members responding state that they can depend on their cooperative for support in times of emergency

6. Belonging to a cooperative is perceived very strongly to support members in fundamental business activities and economic decision-making.
a. 94% of respondents report (“yes” and “rather yes”) that cooperatives help them in their daily work or business
b. 91% of respondents believe (“yes” and “rather yes”) that cooperatives help them in
making decisions that are fundamental to their economic security

7. Social program benefits of cooperative membership are not strongly perceived by cooperative members in the quantitative data. Intangible benefits social benefits are affirmed in the qualitative portion of the research which specifically attest to the social benefits that cooperatives are providing.
a. A large majority state that educational programs for youth are not offered
b. A smaller majority state that health-related programs are not offered, with a significant number of those aware of health-related programs (63%) indicating that they had participated.

8. Both members and non-members perceive that the existence of cooperatives in a community positively influences the overall quality of life in the community, with 57% being able to observe direct effects and 70% believing that cooperatives attract outside investors.
However qualitatively, when asked about cooperatives’ ‘engagement in the life of community’ responses are mixed, with many members and non-members are not aware of or not seeing evidence of such engagement.

9. Satisfaction with cooperative membership is very high!
a. 96% of cooperative members intend to stay with their cooperatives for the next 5+ years
b. 63% of cooperative members are “very satisfied” with their membership and 27% are “somewhat satisfied” – with only 10% being neutral or not satisfied
c. Friendship and security were two dominant themes that emerged from the focus groups linked to the pride in their cooperative membership and loyalty to their cooperatives. These in turn may be inferred to underlie the level of satisfaction reported in cooperative membership and the intention to remain.

10. Among non-cooperative members, the primary reasons cited (34%) for not belonging to a cooperative relate to an apparent lack of awareness about the costs and the nature of the benefits or not needing/wanting loans. In addition,
a. 21% indicated that they could not afford to join;
b. 30% had an inaccurate view of cooperatives, with 17% having misinformation about the terms for joining and 13% saying they did not want loans, implying that was the only reason to join;
c. A further 20% do not belong due to communications issues, with 13% stating that no one had invited them to join and 7% having no knowledge

For policy-makers who are looking at macro level effects and for practitioners who are concerned about sustainability, the data in the Philippines shows that members identify and value a “cooperative difference” and shows that the large majority of cooperative members are very positive about their experience and that this satisfaction is borne out by the economic benefits they receive from their membership.