Drawing the youth to ethical enterprises
Unknown to Filipinos and even to Cebuanos, Cebu is currently hosting the International Cooperative Alliance Asia-Pacific ICA-AP Youth Summit 2.0.
The event which reeled off Friday last week (August 17) in the second class municipality of Pinamungahan in mid-west Cebu was attended by more than 140 youth delegates from across 16 Asia Pacific countries including France and Kenya.
The participants are now attending the last plenary session of the week-long summit that ends tomorrow, August 22.
The global population of co-operatives is estimated at 1.2 billion but the presence and voice of young people (aged 15 -28) are hardly felt or heard in the self-help sector.
The situation is critical because if co-operatives have to survive in a century laden with information technology and grave challenges related to climate change, the sector has to lean on the youth who have the energy and are adept in new technology.
The problem is young people hardly know what co-operatives are all about; many have had no engagement at all with the business model, worse, they think co-ops are low tech and run by old people.
This was at the back of the mind of Balasubramanian “Balu” Iyer, regional director of ICA-AP when he broached the idea of a youth summit to Santosh Kumar, program director for youth affairs in 2016.
The concept of bringing together the youth of AP countries, give them space to talk about challenges in their respective countries, to offer entrepreneurial business solutions in the context of co-operatives structure and principles under the aegis of an international apex body found eager co-operators in Indonesia and partners in the European Union who were very keen to know what the youth are thinking.
Thus, the first AP Youth Summit was born in Bali, Indonesia attended by 75 delegates. The highlight of the five-day immersion program was the “Co-op Pitch” competition, won by Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative youth coordinator Justine Lyn Limocon.
Justine’s idea of an organic farm tourism enterprise addressed certain sustainability and financial viability issues, was also big on environmental concerns and community development. Put together, it was quite a pitch for the co-op movement and was seen to draw the youth to ethical enterprises.
The hype brought by the Lamac Organic Farm Tourism did not disappoint some 140 delegates who descended on the Hidden Valley Resort last Friday.
From making foliar or organic fertilizers in the organic farm, feeding 70 buffaloes with napier and other organic ingredients in the dairy farm, grafting cacao twigs on half-grown cacao plants in the cacao nursery, making coco ropes in the coco hub, to transplanting rice in the Lamac paddies made for a different kind of race for the youth.
The series of on-site exercises got them engaged, amazed and energized at every turn.
Maybe the only drawback in the rural setting was slow internet which upset participants on Day 1.
However, as their immersion in Lamac progressed to Days 2 and 3, the youth realized that time away from their gadgets enabled them to engage more meaningfully with their peers.
This observation actually made it to their evaluation sheet which, by the way, gave high marks to the hospitality of the staff, the scrumptious food, cooperation of village people and the immense talents of young co-op performers who danced and sang their way into the hearts of the youth of Asia Pacific.
If ICA AP echelon had misgivings about how the youth of Indonesia, China, Singapore, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, Myanmar, Iran, India, Kenya, France, Pakistan, the Philippines, perceive co-ops, I think that after the AP Youth Summit 2.0 their doubts had become irrelevant.
(To be continued …)
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