Africa Prudential, a digital solutions provider with unique solutions for cooperative societies, held a webinar themed, “Cooperatives Build a Better World: Leveraging Technology to Drive Financial Inclusion and Collective Wealth through Cooperatives” in commemoration of the International Cooperative Day.
Wole Famurewa anchored the webinar. According to Famurewa, the webinar will contribute to adopting technology in the operation of cooperatives.
Obong Idiong, Managing Director, Africa Prudential, gave a brief welcome address and discussed the place of cooperatives in driving growth and the importance of technology in harnessing the potential of cooperatives in this part of the world as it is seen in other countries.
The keynote speaker for the webinar, Afishetu Braimoh, Commissioner for Industry, Trade, and Cooperative, Edo State, spoke on the importance of cooperatives and how it is part of every society and fits well into the plan of Edo state.
She acknowledged that technology drives every economy, and businesses will thrive through the engagement of the public and the right infrastructure. According to her, the aspiration of Edo state is to improve the ease of doing business there.
The Commissioner said that the international cooperative day provides an opportunity to create structures to strengthen the relationship between cooperatives and government.
"In Edo state, the political and socio]economic development is linked to cooperative societies.
Currently, the state is working with Africa prudential in digitising the processes and operations of cooperative societies. "
Per Afishetu, Edo state is currently working on a database categorising cooperatives into sectors and gender. They have prioritised the need to grow and engage people and are working on policies that will create an environment for cooperatives to thrive.
She ended her talk with the need for work to be done, saying there is a lot of work to be done, and it involves reorientation. Cooperatives are uniting families and building societies, which is why they are the bedrock of society.
The panel session had Afishetu Braimoh; Obong Idiong; Isaiah Owolabi, CEO, Efina; SP Giwa, PRO Nigerian Police Cooperative Multipurpose Society Limited; David Ogunsola, Chief Technology Officer, Africa Prudential; Charles Ameh, President, President, Chevron Employee Multi-purpose cooperative society, Henry Chukwu, Financial Expert.
Owolabi said that it is important to get access to financial service data. He said that a third of Nigerians use informal financial services and most members of cooperative societies are in that demography.
SP Giwa shared the police cooperative experience. The Nigerian police cooperative is one of the largest cooperative organisations in the country. He said the cooperative used to have issues with disbursing money to members all over the country. There was also the challenge of data and registration for cooperative members.
To solve these issues, the cooperative worked with Africa prudential to digitise and automate the process. An officer does not have to come down to Lagos to make a withdrawal or deposit, making it more appealing for more police officers to join the cooperative.
Henry Chukwu said cooperative societies are important tools for financial inclusion, adding that cooperatives offer most financial services in the country. The cooperative act regulates the Nigerian cooperative societies.
The moderator asked the panellists to discuss how to unleash the potential of Farm Cooperatives.
According to Afishetu, there are plans to increase internet access all over the state. She added that when they do press briefings that affect cooperatives and farmers, they take that information to rural areas to help them understand what's going on using their local languages. The Commissioner said they regularly educate farmers and reorientate them on the best practices that are good for their businesses.
Obong Idiong buttressed the points made by the Commissioner and other panellists and added that creating local solutions to our problems is important. He believes that getting adequate data will help to increase innovations targeted to solving local problems.
Idiong said he is happy conversations around cooperatives are being held and commended the work Edo state is doing, especially in the rural areas.
David Ogunsola gave a breakdown of the digital solutions Africa Prudential and how they help cooperative societies run better. He said Africa Prudential responds to issues plaguing cooperatives and provides solutions.
Charles Ameh said his goal has always been to leverage technology in the cooperative space and carry members of his cooperative along easily using these tools. He said that data has to be leveraged in the changing dynamics of cooperative societies and decision-making.
He also encouraged members of cooperatives to be actively involved in their respective cooperatives and ensure that their leaders are accountable.