People form co-operatives to get benefits which are difficult to get if they operated only as individuals. Co-operatives must be member based. The members must commit themselves in every way and they will get benefits in return. If the co-operative is to give benefits to the members it must be properly managed. The principals and values in co-operatives must be followed. The Act, Regulations, by-laws and decisions of meetings must be obeyed. The members must employ teamwork, they must be committed, and there must be proper leadership, accountability and volunteerism.
Proper management and self responsibility by members will help to bring success in co-operatives.
Capitalising the co-operative (Finance)
Members put capital in their co-operative when they buy shares. The buying of shares is usually the first investment of capital in co-operatives. Members are encouraged to buy shares every year. Loans, grants, donations and surplus are other ways of capitalizing a co-operative.
Roles & Responsibilities in a Co-Operative
A co-operative is formed by the members who must become active right from the start for the co-operative to be successful. The easiest way to measure the success of a co-operative is to see if it is serving the members needs. Members must know that they can only benefit from their co-operative if they all play their part.
C-operative Management Structure
Those persons in a co-operative society who have qualified under the guidelines of the by-laws and have joined in the application for registration of the society. Each member must have a nominee who is expected to get their benefits in the co-operatives in the event of misadventure.
- Aspiring members must submit membership request to the board for approval.
- An applicant must pay an entrance/application fee as specified in the by-laws
- Must be a citizen or resident of St. Christopher and Nevis;
- Must be a citizen of another CARICOM Member State;
- Shall not be an undischarged bankrupt
- Shall not be of unsound mind
- Shall be 16 years or older
- To attend meetings
- To participate in co-operative activities
- To undertake responsibilities when called upon to do so
- To patronise and be loyal to the co-operative
- To assist in providing the capital
- To elect the board of directors and committees
- Make and revise by-laws
- Respect meeting decisions
- Obey to the by-laws, regulations and the co-operative societies Act
- Repayment of loans (credit unions)
- Encouragement to others to join co-operative
- To attend meetings
- To Vote
- To elect and to be elected
- To be informed on co-operative affairs
- Use of co-operative facilities
- Use of financial benefits
- Receive dividend, rebates and bonuses
- Return of capital in case of membership withdrawal
- These are Members elected at the Annual General Meeting or a special general meeting to control the operation of the cooperative
- The Board of Directors can be from 5 to 13 members
- Board members are elected at the annual general meeting
- Board members serve on a rotational basis with one third of the board members up for elections annually.
- A board member may serve for two consecutive three year terms, after which he/she must retire for at least one year.
- Make polices. e.g. no credit or rent must be prepaid
- Employ a manager and staff
- Control the running of the co-operative
- Report to members at the AGM
- Holding monthly board meetings
- Process membership application
- Responsible for the general development of the co-operative
- Responsible for chairing board meetings and general meetings
- To sign and execute jointly with the secretary, all deeds and conveyances of real estate or property and such other documents as the board may specify.
- Perform such duties as customarily done by the president or as directed by the board, not in contravention of the Act, Regulations and by-laws.
- Takes on the job of the president when he is absent or when he is unable to perform his duty.
- To do tasks given to him by the board
- Attend board and general meetings
- To write and present minutes at meetings
- Conduct any all correspondence on behalf of the co-operative
- Give notices for all board and general meetings of the co-operative as guided by the Act, Regulations and By-laws.
- To sign and execute jointly with the president, all deeds and conveyances of real estate or property and such other documents as the board may specify.
- Responsible for the safe keeping of the co-ops records
- Perform all other duties as guided by the by-laws or as guided by resolutions of the board in line with the Act, Regulations & By-laws.
- Responsible for receiving all monies of the society and giving receipts for those monies
- Depositing all monies received in the name of the co-operative in a bank or such depository as specified by the Board
- Record all transactions affecting the co-operative in the books provided for that purpose
- Sign all cheques, notes, bills of exchange and other documents necessary to effect the business of the co-operative
- Give monthly financial reports to the board
- Keep charge of all documents, book and vouchers for all payments made and receipts given on behalf of the co-operative
- Present the annual statement of account, balance sheet, monthly financial statements and other statements as directed by the board
- Producing a current statement of the co-operative’s monies on demand
- Making payments as authorised by the Board and obtaining receipts for those payments
- Preparing and forwarding to the Registrar such financial reports as required
- Ensure that all promissory notes, drafts and negotiable instruments in favour of the co-operative are properly prepared
- Do such other duties as required by the office of the Treasurer
The supervisory committee is elected at an annual general meeting, which is made up of at least 3 members. The watchdog of co-operative.
Members of the supervisory committee can serve for a maximum of two consecutive three year terms after which he/she must retire for at least one year.
Role of the supervisory committee
- To ensure that co-operative operates according to the Act, by-laws and policy.
- Meet at least once per month to examine the books and other financial records of the society
- Inform the registrar in writing of any wrong doing or bad practices
- Examine the books and records of the Co-operative
- Appraise the policies and operating procedures of the co-operative and make recommendations to the board
- Confirm the cash instruments, property and securities of the society
- Confirm the shares and other balances or holdings of members
- Monitor the management of the co-operative
- Receive and investigate complaints by any member related to the proper management of the co-operative
- Verify the accounts of members with the records of the co-operative at least once per year
- Ensure that all transactions involving directors, committee members and employees are in line with the Act, Regulations, by-laws and policies of the Co-operative
- Make sure the monthly, annual and special reports to the Registrar as guided by Section 147 of the Act are complied with
- Reports to members at AGM
- Responsible for the daily running of the co-operative
- Carry out the policies made by the board. Example (For each sales transaction, an invoice must be drawn up. All credit customers must settle their account in 30 days)
- Report to the board monthly
- Supervise other staff members
Work as directed by the manager.
First general meeting
A co-operative society must hold its first general meeting within two months after its registration. At this meeting members will vote on a number of matters to organise the co-operative for business. These matters include;
- Adoption of the by-laws
- Adoption of share certificates and records of the society
- The authorizing of the issue of shares
- Election of a board of directors
- Election of a supervisory committee
- The appointment of an auditor to hold office until the next general meeting
- The making of banking arrangements
- The transaction of any other business
Special general meeting
The board may call a special general meeting of members at any time or when called upon to do so by its members in writing.
Annual general meeting
A co-operative society is expected to hold its annual general meeting not later than three months after the close of its financial year. If the co-operative requires more time to prepare for its annual general meeting the members must seek permission in writing from the registrar before the three month pass. The board of directors is required to notify the registrar in writing of changes in directors within thirty days.
The board of directors shall meet monthly to discuss and analyse the performance of the co-operative, make policies and to develop strategies for effective management.
Supervisory committee meeting
The Supervisory Committee shall meet monthly. The Supervisory Committee must have a chairman to preside at meetings and a secretary to take minutes at meetings. Its functions shall be;
- Examine the books and records of the Society;
- Appraise the policies and operating procedures of The Society and make recommendations to the Board;
- Confirm the cash instruments, property and securities of the Society;
- Confirm the shares, deposits and other balances or holdings of members;
- Verify the assets of the Society and monitor whether the assets are properly protected;
- Monitor the management of The Society;
- Receive and investigate any complaints made by any member affecting the proper management of the Society;
- At least once a year, cause the accounts of members to be verified with the records of the Society;
- Ensure that all advances, and other transactions involving Directors, committee members and employees, are in keeping with the Act, the Regulations, By-Laws and Policies of the Society; and
- Attest to the monthly returns filed in compliance with Section 147 of the Act.
The Supervisory Committee after each meeting shall write to the Board on its finding so that corrective actions can be taken if necessary. After the end of the financial year the Supervisory Committee must write a report for the annual general meeting.
A meeting can only start when a quorum as specified in the by-laws is available. The specified quorum for a general meeting must be in place within sixty minutes after the time set for the start of the meeting. If a quorum is not available the meeting must be postpone to a date and time not more than thirty days later.
Marketing of produce through the co-operative
A co-operative which through its objectives in its by-laws or through contract expresses its intention to market members produce shall have such power to; Market the specified volume of members produce, Demand compensation from any member who contravenes this order.
The co-operative can have a person who is indebted to it create a charge in favour of the co-operative. This charge then authorizes the co-operative to seize the property subjected to the charge to obtain repayment.
Annual financial statement
The board of directors must present to the members approved (signed by at least two directors) and audited account at its annual general meeting. Members should have such accounts/reports at least ten days before the meeting.
Members must also have a copy of the auditor’s report with the financial statements.
The registrar must also be provided with the approved and audited statements and reports at least ten days before the annual general meeting.
When the co-operative makes a surplus it must before using it for any other purpose; Use any part of the surplus to deal with all or any deficit previously incurred.
Establish and maintain a statutory reserve. The co-operative society shall ensure that its statutory reserves and other institutional capital are not less than ten percent of total assets
If at the end of the financial year the statutory reserves and other institutional capital reserves before transfer under this requirement in the Act is less than ten percent of total assets, the co-operative shall transfer to statutory reserves for that year not less than twenty five percent of surplus or such less sum as needed to increase the fund to ten percent of total assets.
The co-operative must maintain a development fund as guided by section 126 of the Ac. The co-operative is required to set aside not more than ten percent of surplus to this fund.
Dividend or Bonus
Dividend or bonus is paid from surplus only after institutional capital in the co-operative has grown to be not less than five percent of total assets. A co-operative is only allowed to pay dividend or bonus in any given year after its accounts are certified by a qualified auditor.
- Uphold the conditions for registration on a continuous basis to remain registered.
- Present a monthly, annual and special reports to the registrar as guided by section 147 of the Act
- Comply with inspections and access to records when so directed as guided by sections 22 and 186 to 188 of the Act.
- Convene monthly board and supervisory committee meetings.
- Convene annual general meetings.
- Convene at least four joint meetings of the board and supervisory committee annually as directed by section 69 of the Act.