Jamaica held its first conference on the wider co-operative sector last month, with ICA Director-General Chuck Gould as keynote speaker.
The two-day symposium and exhibiton on co-operatives, 18-19 July, looked at how co-operative enterprises build a better world, which was organised by one of the ICA's newest members TIP Friendly Society. The event, which attracted 121 members from 35 co-operatives and friendly societies, aimed to raise awareness of the importance of co-operatives in the local regional, and national development of Jamaica.
At a separate meetings on the same day, Jamaica's Industry Minister Sharon Ffolkes-Abraham said the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is hoping to achieve a more effective regulatory framework for all co-operatives, credit unions and agricultural societies operating in Jamaica. She stressed the importance of co-operatives in Jamaica’s economic development, with “over 1.4 million people are members of these co-operative and friendly societies” compared to a population of 2.7m.
The symposium was co-organised with the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies is driven by its pursuit to combat poverty and improve the standard of living of Jamaican people through co-operation. Its activities have set solid foundations for meaningful change and sustained growth in many sectors of the economy. It consisting of 220 Co-operatives and 468 Societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act.
One of these co-operatives is the Jamaica Creative Cooperative, which also had a stall at the exhibition. The coop was formed in June 2010 to support the work of creative Jamaicans through marketing initiatives and promote their products and services to local and international markets. Members produce authentic and unique handcrafted art, craft, gift and souvenir items. Other exhibitors included Co-operative Credit Union, Cave Valley Multipurpose Co-operative and Christiana Potato Growers Co-operative Association.
Following the symposium Mr Gould said: “As one of the most recent countries to join the ICA, the co-operatives in Jamaica demonstrated their commitment to the global movement with this conference in celebration of the International Year of Co-operatives. Their intent is to use this conference to launch an annual training and networking event. They have a clear vision of their role in the Jamaican economy and of the opportunities they see ahead.”