Sources of Finance and Factors Hindering Cooperative Societies in Development of Nigeria
The cooperative societies are member-owned, volunteer-led, self-help and democratic institutions that provide financial services to their members. Cooperative society in Nigeria are not constituted to make profit and are openly committed to service the needs of disadvantaged communities and individuals, many of whom have been abandoned by mainstream banking. The motivation behind the formation of cooperative societies is to encourage thrift among their members and to pool these savings into a fund from which members can borrow from this should they need to do so. Their depositors are also their borrowers who know one another through some common bond and this pre-existing social connection helps to circumvent problems of imperfect information and enforceability. Cooperative societies have a distinct economic and social philosophy, and are unique and special cooperative financial institutions. Their cooperative credentials encompass a number of operating principles including open and voluntary membership, democratic control, limited (but fair) returns on share capital, with any surplus equitably distributed to members at their Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The Third National Development Plan for 1975 to 1980 witnessed increased government involvement in the activities of the cooperative movements, especially by way of providing funds and expertise in the running of the cooperative societies. As documented in the fourth National Development Plan, cooperative societies increased from about 6,000 to 11,264 during the period between 1975 and 1980, while the total membership of the movement increased from 450,000 to 918,149 (Asaolu, 2004). Cooperative societies feature in mostly all town and villages of the country. It is also present in almost all public and private institutions, organizations and businesses. A fundamental weakness noticeable in the Nigerian cooperative movement is the small size of cooperatives probably due to lack of public awareness about the vital roles which cooperative societies play in the development or oiling of the wheel of development of the SMEs. With a few notable exceptions, cooperative societies attracted little research either descriptive in nature or empirically oriented towards issues that paralleled the type of work provided in other financial institutions. On the latter note, for example, Cargil (2007) surveyed empirically-based literature and reported how it “indicate(s) quite clearly that cooperative societies are more similar to, than different from, the large financial institutions”.