(Source: ICA Review, Vol.91 No.2 - Annual Report 1997-1998, pp. 10-14)
Member Services/Special Projects 1997
Member services have always been at the top of the ICA agenda. Most of the activities undertaken by the ICA staff, both at Head Office and in the Regional Offices are services directed to the ICA membership.
To coordinate those efforts and to improve services which might have
fallen between the existing ICA departments, a separate unit was set up
in 1996 with the goal to “Provide good services to both Specialized bodies
and National members so that the ICA should be able to:
a. Hold on to existing membership
b. Increase Membership”
This goal was confirmed by the ICA Board in October 1996.
Before detailing the Members Services activities during 1997, we can say that the two goals have been attained; members have, with very few exceptions, paid their dues in 1997 and we recruited 17 number members during the year, thanks mainly to efforts by our regional offices.
The Implementation of the Member Services Strategy during 1997 was based on (i) Discussions within the Board, (ii) A survey of a random sample of ICA members (54 out of 218 with a response rate of 84%!) and (iii) Intense and frequent discussions with ICA members, Specialised Organisations, Regional Offices and ICA staff. Below are some examples of services that have been carried out during 1997.
Director Member Services
Improve the “conducting” of ICA meetings : Work on the 1999 General Assembly has begun in collaboration with the Canadian hosts, leading to an agreement around responsibilities and costs. It was also agreed to extend the event to a Congress on the theme “Adding Value to Co-operative Membership”.
Provide opportunities for Business contacts in conjunction with our meetings: A separate seminar was held in Geneva on this topic awith some 40 people in conjunction with the 1997 General Assembly and in collaboration with the Communication Department.
Provide an annual global opportunity to meet: It was discussed and decided in 1997 that a Global Forum called “Doing Co-operative Business - Asian Experiences and Global Opportunities” would be held in conjunction with the Regional Assembly for Asia in 1998, to which all ICA members have been invited.
Continuous revaluation of membership fees: The fee level of most ICA members was last year scrutinized according to the subscription formulae, leading to discussions with 10 ICA members. In 50% of those cases an agreement on increased fees was reached.
The formulae applied to insurance and banking members were reviewed by the unit in 1997. The Board decided to make no changes. The complicated formulae for housing members of the ICA is still under revision in the spring 1998.
The ICA Head Office Administration and Member Services units are now also working together on the preparation of the applications from new members.
Member Services through the Specialised Organisations: The annual consultation with all SBs was held in April, 1997.
ICA has also improved its services to Sos, as a part of the overall Members Services Strategy. That includes the provision of full secretariats for IHCO and CICOPA and supporting secretariats for ICBA and ICAO. Negotiations during the year have led to ICA’s taking over also of TICA and INTERCOOP secretariats from the beginning of 1998.
The Head Office initiated a discussion about sectorial influence in the ICA’s democratic structure to bring about stronger formal ties between ICA nad the different sectors.
Develop regional strategies including recruitment of new members: Regional member Services strategies were developed during 1997 and presented at the beginning of 1998. As a result, a joint Head Office and American Regional Office members’ recruitment tour was made in the USA during 1997 and other toures are planned in both Europe and USA in 1998.
Thanks to a secondment from NACF, from the Republic of Korea, ICA has had access to Won-Sik Noh as an Agricultural Advisor at the Head Office in Geneva. Mr. Noh has also been a resource in general member services helping with statistics, membership fee follow-up and support at ICA meetings.
During 1997 the unit has investigated the interest among ICA membership to form a separate Working Group on environment that also could lead to the founding of a new ICA Specialised Committee on Green Issues and Ethics. The interest from several members has been large and will lead in 1998 to a meeting with the aim to form such a body.
ICA has, during 1997, worked with a Special Project: Co-operative Statistics in Europe, under the leadership of Arsenio Invernizzi. That work has been sponsored partly by the European Union DG XXIII and involved most ICA European members. The work has been carried out also as a part of the overall ICA Database set-up (see under Communications).
Change in Membership
Further to Board meetings held in Geneva (September 1997), Mexico (November 1997) and Tokyo (April 1998), the following co-operative organisations became members:
* Bolivia, Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito San Luis,
* Bolivia, Cooperative de Ahorro y Credito, San Martin,
* Boliva, Instituto Cooperativo de Capacitacion,
* Bolivia, Cooperativa Rural de Electrification,
* Brazil, Brazilian Confederation of Housing Co-operatives (CONFHAB),
* Colombia, Cooperativa de Usuarios de Servicios Medicos (USIMEC),
* Haiti, Conseil National des Cooperatives,
* Honduras, Fundacion FINACOOP,
* Mexico, Confederacion Nacional Mexicana de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Prestamo (C.N.M.C.A.P.),
* Paraguay, Confederacion Paraguaya de Cooperativas (CONPACOOP),
* Puerto Rico, Instituto de Cooperativismo (ICOOP),
* Uruguay, Cooperativa de Ahorro Credit de Uruguay (CAYCU),
* Uruguay, Cooperativa Nacional de Ahorro y Credito (COFAC),
* USA, Agriculture Cooperative Development International/Volunteers in Overseas
Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA).
Asia and Pacific
* Mongolia, Mongolian Association of Private Herders’ Co-operatives,
* Myanmar, Myanmar Union of Co-operative Syndicates.
* Sweden, Swedish Co-operative Housing Orgaisation (SBC)
However, as the full membership status is granted following the first subscription payment, only 12 out of 17 are presently full members. During the reporting period, one international member organisation asked to be withdrawn from ICA membership, one ceased its activities and eleven national members plus 2 international members were expelled following non-payment of membership subscriptions for two or more consecutive years. There are presently 232 national members, plus 4 international members in 94 countries.