Asiapro: A thriving self-help enterprise

Monday, July 28, 2008

Self-help or self-reliance continues to be the basic philosophy underlying the country’s social reform and poverty alleviation efforts. Self-sustaining businesses and livelihood ventures are encouraged, which led to the development of groups with self-help programs that require little (to no) assistance from the government. Asiapro Multi-purpose Cooperative is a notable sample.

Asiapro empowers what was previously an unorganized sector in RP: informal/ non-regular workers. Based on recent labor data, there are over 20 million workers in the informal labor sector in the country. Most of these workers are marginalized casual, contractual, seasonal, temporary, and non regular employees. Under the Asiapro model, workers from this rank organize themselves and form a self-employed workers cooperative.

Asiapro pioneered the concept of self-employed workers-cooperative by modifying and eliminating the disadvantages brought about by the current status of contractual, contingent and temporary relationships. It introduced the concept of transforming workers into “entrepreneurs,” or more appropriately, “coopreneurs,” having bonded together in a cooperative enterprise.

Each member is a self-employed worker-owner, therefore transactions are not carried out in the context of an employee-employer relationship. He is a co-owner of the cooperative and he engages in contractual assignments with the cooperative serving as the contracting party.

As constituents of a self-help enterprise, Asiapro members have enough leverage to enjoy benefits that are at par if not better than those enjoyed by other contingent workers and even by regular workers of some companies.

Asiapro members enjoy higher income from their services and share in the surplus of the cooperative. They also have insurance, health care, savings, and other standard employment benefits.? Members have access to training programs, savings and credit facilities, and other livelihood opportunities as well. As “co-owners” of the enterprise, members have the opportunity to share whatever success the cooperative will reap.

The clients of Asiapro Cooperative come from a variety of industries-manufacturing, distribution, agribusiness, property management, construction and utilities, hotel and food services, financial services, personal care, and retailing. Asiapro Cooperative also pursues outsourcing contracts and partnerships in such areas as logistics, sales and promotion, packing, hygiene, housekeeping and maintenance services.

Focusing on cooperativism and self-reliance is a key strategy to generate employment and livelihood.

Asiapro will work hand in hand with the government sector to empower more Filipino workers. Its impressive track record is a prime example of a self-help enterprise, a result which can be emulated by people working together, determinedly for a common good.

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Source: PhilStar (link opens in a new window)