By Ace June Rell S. Perez
FROM what was then a small cooperative with only P242 capital investment exactly 50 years ago, the Sta. Ana Multipurpose Cooperative (SAMULCO) has grown in leaps and bounds as it breaches over P1 billion mark in total assets in November last year, a milestone worthy of celebration.
Celebrating its golden anniversary last February 26, SAMULCO started with a thanksgiving mass at Sta. Ana Parish where it originated in 1967. A motorcade followed from its main office at Monteverde to two of its four branches at Puan and Panacan. In the evening, the celebration was highlighted with a Solidarity Night at SMX Convention Center, Lanang, Davao City where the 35,000-member cooperative also launched its book entitled “From Strength to Strength: the story of Sta. Ana Multipurpose Cooperative” and honored the men and women behind SAMULCO’s success over the years.
Long before it got its current name, SAMULCO was first known as Sta. Ana Parish Cooperative Credit Union, Inc. (SAPCOCU), Sta. Ana Community Cooperative Credit Union (SACCOCU), and Sta. Ana Credit Cooperative (SACRECO).
With its overwhelming success, the homegrown coop gives honor and due appreciation to all its key players and members who rendered huge contribution in making SAMULCO what it is today: a more mature, independent, trustworthy, and self-sustaining primary cooperative.
SAMULCO Chairperson Dr. Victor Bonifacio O. Hofileña said, “the success is most attributed to the people who took the first big step in the coop’s great journey – Fr. Gerard Loiselle and the rest of the PME Fathers, and the 21 incorporators of the institution.”
“From strength to strength and probably to more strength, we are geared towards helping those in need and we will continue to serve the community,” he said.
SAMULCO Vice-Chairperson Joselito O. Santillan echoed that the cooperative was created to provide the community the needed financial assistance to uplift its economic and social status.
Gains and upswings
SAMULCO General Manager Ruel S. Ricabo, for his part said, the upward trend of the coop’s total number of members, from a small group of 21 men to now 35,000 active members, is one of the notable achievements the coop has gained. Noting that the magnitude of its assistance offered to its members and non-members blossomed to thousands of folds.
At 50, SAMULCO has provided a total of P7 billion loans, given out P12 million worth of Health Care services to members, granted more than P200 million Mortuary Assistance, employed 360 individuals, touched lives of 40 thousand members (65% of which are women), and granted scholarship to more than 300 students in secondary and tertiary levels.
With the continued trust of its members and the good governance applied by its leaders, the coop has managed to become one of the few cooperatives in the country to have reached the billion mark.
But beyond that, Ricabo stressed, SAMULCO became a player in the community that extends not only financial assistance but also social action programs beneficial to its member and the community’s development and sustainable growth.
These social services include environmental protection through tree planting, marine reforestation and watershed protection; micro-financing through the SAMULCO Foundation; mortuary assistance, medical missions, healthcare assistance for members, officers and employees; groceries at very affordable prices through the Buying Club; scholarships for qualified secondary and tertiary students who are children of members; financial literacy, entrepreneurship and livelihood training for members; and child social and financial education through aflatoun program, among others.
Challenges and setbacks
One of SAMULCO’S Board of Directors, Jose P. Castillo, Jr. said delinquency problem, among all the challenges, serves as the biggest constraint in sustaining the coop’s growth.
“The big delinquency rate really can affect the net income of the coop, thus, affecting our services,” he said.
But Castillo was quick to add that they were able to address the problem by educating its members to pay their loans in time. The move has enabled the coop to reduce its delinquency rate from some 48.15% in 2011 to 26.17% in 2016.
There is more in store for SAMULCO members. Hofileña underscored that there is no stopping SAMULCO in delivering financial and social assistance to the people to promote inclusive growth.
“The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) already approved SAMULCO to operate for another 50 years. We will provide new and improved services based on our members’ needs,” he said.
Some of the future plans of SAMULCO are to launch its second residential village, a memorial park, expand its clinic, continue scholarship programs and establish more outlets outside Davao City, among others. At present, SAMULCO has its own buildings in Monteverde Ave., Magsaysay Ave., Puan, and Buhangin.
Also, the coop’s focus now is to encourage more quality members – members who are willing to participate to the programs of the coop responsibly.
Guided by the coop’s principles and values and with the intercession of Sta. Ana, its patron saint, SAMULCO is ready to withstand challenges and seize opportunities brought by its holistic approach in social and financial development.
The people behind SAMULCO, more than ever, is positive that they will fully realize their vision: become a leading world-class cooperative of empowered members. ASP