Cooperative societies

Cooperative societies are autonomous associations of individuals or businesses who voluntarily come together to meet their common economic, social, cultural needs and aspirations. These societies are founded on the principles of cooperation, mutual assistance, and democratic decision-making.

The primary objective of cooperative societies is to promote the economic and social well-being of their members by pooling resources, sharing risks, and collectively undertaking various activities. These activities can include production, marketing, purchasing, credit and finance, housing, agriculture, and more. Cooperatives operate across various sectors, like agriculture, retail, banking, housing, healthcare and energy.

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Here are some key features of cooperative societies

1. Voluntary Membership: Cooperative societies are established by individuals or businesses who voluntarily choose to become members. Membership is open to all who share the common needs and goals of the cooperative, regardless of gender, race, religion or social status. Cooperatives are inclusive and typically aim to serve their members’ mutual interests.

2. Democratic Control: Cooperative societies typically operate on the guiding principle of democratic decision-making. Each member has an equal say in the affairs of the nonprofit cooperative, typically through a one-member-one-vote system. Decisions are made collectively, ensuring the interests of all members are considered.

3. Active member benefit: The primary focus of cooperative societies is to undoubtedly benefit their members. This can be achieved through various means, like providing affordable goods and services, ensuring fair prices for producers, offering access to credit and financial services, or creating employment opportunities. The surplus typically generated by the cooperative is often reinvested for the mutual benefit of the active members or the local community.

4. Limited Return on Capital: Cooperative societies aim to provide equitable returns to their members rather than maximizing profits. The return on capital invested in the cooperative is typically limited, ensuring the benefits are shared among the members. This approach promotes a more balanced and socially responsible business model.

5. Education and Training: Cooperatives place emphasis on member education and training. They strive to enhance the knowledge, skills, and capacities of their members, enabling them to actively participate in the cooperative’s operations and make informed decisions. Cooperative education promotes self-help, self-responsibility, and lifelong learning.

6. Mutual cooperation among cooperatives: Cooperative societies often collaborate and form networks with other cooperatives. This cooperation can occur at the local, regional, national, or international level. By working together, cooperatives can share resources, knowledge, and experiences, and collectively address common challenges.

Cooperative societies come in different forms, like consumer cooperatives, producer cooperatives, worker cooperatives, housing cooperatives, and agricultural cooperatives. The specific regulations and legal frameworks governing cooperatives may vary from country to country.

The benefits of cooperative societies include increased bargaining power, improved access to resources and markets, shared risks and costs, community development and the promotion of democratic and sustainable economic practices.

It should be noted that nonprofit cooperatives are exempted from paying company tax in Cameroon.

If you are interested in joining or starting a cooperative society, do a research on the cooperative laws and regulations in Cameroon.

Also, seek guidance from existing cooperative organizations or relevant government agencies. Cooperative development centers and cooperative federations can provide valuable support and resources for those interested in forming or participating in cooperative societies.

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