There is no better time than now for Ghana to establish a Cooperative Fund to serve as a revolving financial facility to empower small enterprises; that is according to Kofi Nsiah Amponsah, Ashanti Regional Director of Cooperatives.

In recognizing the impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration, the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC), highlighting the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development.

“The government should use the cooperative concept as a means because the cooperatives are there to help reduce the poverty levels of members and also generate employment for the people”, noted Mr. Amponsah.

He wants Ghana to take advantage of the IYC to promote the formation and growth of cooperatives in the achievement of development goals under the Department of Cooperatives.

According to him, access to a revolving fund will enable the cooperatives to employ skilled labour and capitalize the society to thrive.

Mr. Amponsah observed that farmers groups in the country find it difficult to grow their businesses because of limited opportunities to raise capital.

He however says when the agricultural cooperatives are able to access the revolving fund, “they’ll be able to buy seeds for their members, buy weedicides and supply them [with] inputs to start with. Then at the harvesting period, they sell their produce to pay in cash.”

Mr. Amponsah says it behooves on government to fully embrace the cooperative concept as a vehicle to economically empower businesses at the grassroots.

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.

They are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity.

Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and concern for others.

In Ghana, the Department of Co-operatives is the government agency charged with the administration of Co-operative Societies.