Job creation, entrepreneurship and ultimately economic growth in the Bay area have been significantly boosted following yesterday’s official launch of the Nelson Mandela Bay Cooperative Chamber (NMBCC).
The first of its kind in the region, the NMBCC targets cooperatives and organises them under a single umbrella organisation through which they can access a range of support, including funding, skills development and opportunities.
The establishment of the chamber is in line with national policy on cooperatives and Nelson Mandela Bay is considered to be among the forerunners in implementing the cooperatives’ national development policy.
The NMBCC launch at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton was attended by dignitaries including Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo and mayor Athol Trollip. More than 300 people attended the launch where the NMBCC officially acknowledged and certified 64 cooperatives as members.
The 64 cooperatives operate in the tourism industry, manufacturing, construction, catering, agriculture, transport, ocean economy, waste management and recycling sectors.
They are distinct from formalised SMMEs, and are described as groups of individuals cooperating on projects on a more informal basis.
Both Somyo and Trollip applauded the establishment of the new body, but cautioned that hard work would be required to maintain individual cooperatives and ensure their success.
“Let me thank all the stakeholders here today whose participation led to this launch, and MEC Somyo in particular, who encouraged metro cooperatives to become organised and to speak with one voice,” Trollip said.
“This has led to the cooperatives now belonging to an apex organisation that will provide them with support and development. This initiative will place the city among the forerunners in the implementation of the national policy on cooperatives in pursuit of meaningful participation to attain local economic development imperatives.”
Somyo said the benefits of membership included increased employment, improving self-sustainability and income for cooperatives and their members, and improving their professionalism and participation in the economy.
“It is far more efficient, either by government or the private sector, to assist and develop the cooperatives through a single body than assisting cooperatives as stand-alone entities,” he said.
“Primary cooperatives can be happy that they have a mother body that will at least make sure they adhere to basic business principles and enhance their professionalism and take them a step closer to success.”
Thembinkosi Peter is chairman of the NMBCC and Innocent Marthinus the secretary.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said the NMBCC was targeting a total membership of 200 cooperatives.