The advice is given by the Registrar and Director of Cooperatives, Ridley Joseph, to over 30 members of Bulvanua Art & Handicraft Cooperative Society (BAHCS) at the launching of its Bylaw at Port Vila Market House this week.

The cooperative is the brainchild of its president, Rosalie Vatu, who set up a personal loan scheme when the vendors were still operating opposite Nambawan Café in 2013.

While launching the legal document for the all-female cooperative society, the Registrar and Director says he won’t sign the Bylaw for the next six months to allow his technical staff to help the members to work in line with the provisions until the time is right to sign the Bylaw.

The Registrar and Director welcomes the meaning of the name ‘Bulvanua’ (which means all the islands of Vanuatu come together) saying, “You are known by your name and your identity connects through your name”.

While the new Policy of Cooperatives is being passed by the Council of Ministers and launched shortly, originally it was the vibrant movement which through its network throughout the country, challenged the British and French colonial Administrations during the colonial period, to finally grant the country its independence on July 30 of 1980.

Now 40 years later, he says cooperatives are no longer a movement but are being transformed into a commercial entity, a business with its historical network which branches out throughout the country.

“The new policy is going to lead in a new direction into an enterprise system because a cooperative is a business. From every point from A to B to C that something is moved, you make money in the enterprise,” he says.

“Your slogan ‘Busy hands for Creation’ speaks for itself because your busy hands never pause from doing something.

“And hands are connected to the body and never work in isolation to the body.

“‘Busy hands’ are linked to a bigger organisation and need to stick to the bigger organisation so that it works.”

He says the Department of Cooperatives will “come down hard on you” to make sure that the enterprise operates within its system which is regulated by his office.

“This child won’t be wearing diapers forever but baby’s clothes and eventually adult clothes,” he says.

“Learn to disagree in an agreeable way” and go forward because the environment of business is moving.

“My office has a specific function I never let go and that is, my office promotes women in business.

“I’ve been in my office since 2009 and let me confirm, in all the cooperatives that I oversee, I must confirm women are better managers than men,” he says to loud hand clapping.

“I have 387 very active cooperatives in the country and 159 of cooperatives are managed by women and I remove my cap to the women.”

He assures all members of Bulvanua Coop that each one is just as important as their President, Rosalie Vatu.

“This is because you are part of the chain which enables the front end to hold firm.

“It means you are a leader yourself and in your case, each one of you has a duty to agree even if you disagree, because you have a long way to go,” he advises.

“If you are a leader in your grouping and you have a great leader, your journey is going to be very bright.

“You are better managers of my cooperatives so far so keep shining.

“Now I am aware of your current network of buying from the provinces and selling in Port Vila.

“When my big system is rolled out, I will come knocking at your door for all of us to roll together.”

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