Universities urged to offer cooperative management courses

Government wants universities to offer cooperative management courses

Government wants universities to offer cooperative management courses

 As cooperatives struggle with challenges of lack of skilled personnel to run them,   the government has shifted its hopes to universities to provide the needed   skills.

The cooperatives   that are seen as a driver   of access to finance   mainly for rural folks are always   crippledwith financial and administrative management challenges which affect their operations.

“we need  research and academic knowledge  in the management  of cooperatives and we believe the universities can  help  us  to   provide these skills,”  Damien Mugabo, Director general  of  Rwanda Cooperative Agency-RCA  said

With their  nature and  set  up which   revolves around   ownership  of  members and  of which  most  of these do  not have  academic  knowledge, Mugabo says  setting up  course are   specifically  targeting  cooperative will help boost  their functionality.

“ we can  train  and  build the capacity of the  mangers  of these cooperatives  but they still need professional  people to run the day to day  management  of  the cooperatives so that   they are profitable,”  he added

Fridaus Uwamahoro from  CODAR, a maize  cooperative in Nyagatare district  says that   lack of   professionals  as well as  financial  constraints to  hire expertise  cripple their efforts to grow the cooperatives that would  help   bring  back profits for members.

“Cooperatives are bringing our farmers together, but the problem is having people who understand cooperative management to help us make them business oriented,” she said

The government is looking at cooperativesas one way of increasing access to finance mainly to the unbanked populations, increased productionin the agricultural   sector as well as a source of credit to    micro and household businesses.

The cooperatives  have  played a key role in organizing farmers  in rural areas  to  improve  production as well  as  increase their household incomes, for example a farmer  can access  credit  to  buy  basic  necessities  which  he  then pays after the harvest.

“As long as cooperatives are management well, they can stir both social and economic growth of the country. This is why it is important to have professional management to run them,” said Professor S.A Chambo from Moshi University of cooperatives in Tanzania.

Indeed, the number of cooperatives currently to over 7000 according to Rwanda Cooperative agency-RCA, something financial experts say   would translate into   increased rural financial inclusion and poverty eradication.

Nevertheless, there is stilla gap to close by Universities asexperts say there is still a wrong attitude by students to taking up cooperative management courses as they perceive them as less paying courses.

“It is true that some students still think that offering such courses is a waste of time. But we have been sensitizing them and the response is positive,” Dr. Jean Ngamije, Rector Independent Institute of Lay Adventists of Kigali said

Ngamije notes that   highlighting the   huge employment opportunities that   are available  in the cooperatives, students   picking interest in taking up  the course has increased, something that will help in closing the skills  gap in cooperatives.

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