Last update: 11-Dec-2013 6:16 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Labour Minister Errol McLeod: T&T can learn from Jamaica
Friendly Societies in T&T ought to be guided by the Jamaica example, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Errol McLeod said yesterday as he delivered the feature address at the Friendly Societies’ Annual Conference and Parade at the KamPo Vibes Restaurant in Chaguanas.
Under the theme, Networking for Success, this year’s Conference marked the 195th anniversary of the Friendly Societies movement in T&T which accounts for 153 registered societies with a collective membership of approximately 30,000 and an asset base of more than $30 million.
A Friendly Society is an unlimited number of persons who join together to achieve a common financial and/or social purpose and is meant to cultivate the practice of thrift, self-reliance, self-help and assist in fostering community spirit, poverty eradication and nation building.
In recognising the challenges of the Friendly Societies’ aging and declining membership; its growing disconnect with young people; its slow transition toward a globalised knowledge-based economy and; the competitive appeal of co-operative societies and credit unions, the Minister said it was imperative that the local movement engages its regional counterparts with the view of observing the operations and successes of other societies. This, he said, will ensure it remains sustainable and keep abreast of changes within the global society.
In reference to the region, McLeod acknowledged the existence of 800 registered and active Friendly Societies in Jamaica and reflected on key and beneficial elements he felt T&T could learn from. “They all maintained a strong thrust toward community development in niche markets as diverse as building schools for school drop-outs, assisting members in the fields of agriculture and fishing and even using their funds to build a health centre in one community,” he said
McLeod advised that local Friendly Societies diligently pursue a course of engaging the public and private sectors, as well as charitable organisations and (NGOs on the possibilities for partnerships. “When Friendly Societies as collective entities are able to pool members’ skills, talents and competencies to overcome the challenges of meeting the demands of 21st century growth... you will come to realise the merit of that adage that no man is an island,” he said.
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