Cooperative societies are business organisations formed by people who have similar interests. These are of three types:
A. Producers cooperatives
These are associations of producers of products who come together in order to protect the interest of their association, for example, farmers. They sell their products to the society and they share the profits.
B. Consumers cooperatives
These are organisations that are formed for the welfare of consumers. This type of cooperative buys goods or commodities in bulk and sells to members of the society at retail prices. Members formally pay some membership fees on admission into the society. Consumers cooperatives own stores or shops. The profits made from such shops are shared by members at the end of the year.
C. Credit and thrift cooperatives
These associations are formed to lend money to members who, for instance, would not have been able to obtain loans from the bank. The loans provided by these societies are at a much lower interest rate than can be obtained anywhere else. Usually, people from the low income group come together and contribute money as savings from which members can easily borrow in times of need, at a fairly low interest rate. Non-members sometimes can also borrow from such societies but at a higher interest rate.
Advantages of cooperatives
1. Members are highly committed and loyal to the society, so that they work for its success.
2. Democratic practices are adopted, therefore the control of the affairs of cooperatives is handled jointly by members, (i.e., in the hands of all.)
3. The profits shared among members from time to time, provide great incentives to them.
4. The societies can easily obtain loans from banks that are unwilling to lend to individuals (e.g. farmers, and businessmen) in the absence of any collateral security.
5. Farmers are able to bargain for higher prices of their products by coming together than remaining as individuals.
6. These societies encourage or promote savings by members by encouraging them to save in the thrift cooperatives.
7. These societies help to eliminate middlemen. therefore. members can buy at a cheaper rate and make profits that are not taxed.
8. These societies organise adult literacy classes for their members.
Disadvantages of cooperatives
1. Lack of capital can limit the activities and projects of the societies.
2. The most popular men in the villages are likely to be elected as leaders, even if they do not have the best talents for the responsibilities. However, popularity and business abilities are not the same.
3. Leaders may be tempted to misappropriate the funds of the society, and members may not detect this, if they are illiterate and the auditing procedure is inadequate.
4. The principles of cooperative movements may not be readily understood by members.
The mass media
Manufacturers inform the public or consumers about their goods and services by the process known as advertisement. Advertisement is the publication of facts or opinions about goods and services, in order to get the public interested in them. They are thus lured into purchasing the advertised goods and services.
i. Newspapers: This is a very important medium; though it is expensive, it can be preserved.
ii. Magazines and journals: Different magazines and journals are used to advertise different types of commodities; for instance, commodities for women such as face make-up, shoes and clothes can be advertised in women’s magazines. Educational journals may carry advertisement of educational materials, for example, books.
iii. Leaflets: These provide relatively inexpensive means of advertising for businessmen and women in a locality. It can be handed to passers-by or people in offices.