The first co-operative in Indonesia was in the city of Purwokerto in Banyumas regency. It was a co-operative bank created to help people get away from bad moneylenders and was inspired by the Raifeissen model.
Despite the fact that Purwokerto was regarded as the first city of the co-operative movement in Indonesia, the movement in this city is not satisfying. Statistical data shows that 125 out of 475 co-operatives are not active. Only 30% of the population of productive age in Banyumas are members of co-operatives.
That quantitative data achievement is in line with the qualitative. For example, in the past two years, fraud has occured in several co-operatives in Banyumas and co-operatives are often associated with bad moneylenders. Moreover, there are few or no co-operatives in the main sectors in Banyumas.
The“Purwokerto Co-operative City 2022” movement is an effort to build a co-operative ecosystem to encourage the emergence of genuine and large co-operatives in Banyumas. Internally, this movement will transform the co-operative spirit in Banyumas. Externally, this movement will rebuild the co-operative image and push the government to issue pro co-operative policy.
The movement will start by building a working-network of: co-operatives, schools, non-government organizations, community organizations, associates, public figures and other parties. The goal is to work collaboratively in re-building the co-operative image.
The working-network will compile a roadmap for five years (2017–2022) which consists of; First year: Internal consolidation of the co-operative movement; Second year; promoting good co-operatives to society; Third year: achievement in increasing co-operative members; Fourth year; co-operative services giving real impact to society. Fifth year; institutionalizing of Purwokerto Co-operative City movement.
Youth as Key Actors
The key actors in the working-network are creative and passionate young people. As Albert Einstein said “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them". The youth tend to think different than their seniors who have been in co-operatives for 20 – 30 years. Social media campaigns, for example, would probably never have been imagined by seniors.
So far, the team has produced a “Purwokerto Kota Koperasi” T-shirt which is worn by more than 400 people. It is a creative way to campaign the changing spirit to the co-operative movement and society. They also invited 143 co-op practitioners, social activists and public figures in a WhatsApp Group. Each month they initiate gatherings which discuss certain themes, for example co-operative anti-fraud issues.
Youth are the driver of this movement by contributing various skills: writing in mass media, graphic designing memes and info-graphics, making short videos; as well as using HC tittle in their names. They do all work voluntarily and more importantly, joyfully.
* Director of Kopkun Institute. Kopkun Institute is a co-operative think thank in Indonesia (http://www.kopkuninstitute.org).
** HC is an acronym of Homo Cooperativus or Humans who Co-operating.