Cooperative society is seen from different perspectives by various scholars, writers, policy makers and operators. Some of these writers are of the view that the cooperative is a strong organization where different entrepreneurs of co-operators pool their resources together with the view of making profit. Others see it as voluntary economic institution in which members share the earned dividends – the financial benefit that results from doing business with or without profit (Ware, 2018).
In this 21st century, Nigeria just like most other developing countries is still confronted with the challenge of improving the lives of her rural folks. Low income and poverty is a remains perennial problem in Nigeria’s rural communities (Ebong, 2016). Nigeria as a society is still battling with the challenges of economic backwardness, mass poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy in the rural sector. Strategies, policies, programmes and projects are still needed to better the lots of the rural communities and their residents (Ware, 2018). While the government, civil society and NGOs could be of help in bringing much needed growth and development to the rural sector, the dwellers and residents of these rural communities should be able to take some responsibility for their own growth and development. There are ready and available tools and resources that the rural sector can take advantage of. Among such are establishment small/medium scale industries and membership of cooperative societies. By pooling resources together and functioning as a unit, a group of producers or consumers can operate at a more efficient scale and share the benefits. They may also buy in large quantity, or store and ship produce to more profitable markets. Such a functional unit with defined common goal is referred to as a cooperative society (Ebong, 2016).
The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) in its statement on the Cooperate Identity, in 2015, defines a cooperative as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.” It is a business voluntarily owned and controlled by its member patrons and operated for them and by them (UWCC, 2012). The rural communities of Nigeria are well known for small-scale farming and processing of farm produce. Generally, this falls within the purview of small or medium scale enterprises (SMEs). In Nigeria, the Small and Medium Industries Enterprises Investment Scheme (SMIEIS) defines small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) as any enterprise with a maximum asset base of N200 million excluding land and working capital and with a number of staff employed not more than 300. Nwokoye (2018) defines Small and Medium-Scale business as “any enterprise employing between five and one hundred workers with an annual turnover of about four hundred thousand Naira (N400, 000)”. The Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry defines SMEs as firms with a total investment (excluding cost of land but including capital) of up to N750, 000, and paid employment of up to fifty (50) persons. SMEs exist in the form of sole proprietorship and partnership, though some could be registered as limited liability companies, and are characterized by: simple management structure, informal employer/employee relationship, labour intensive operation, simple technology, fusion of ownership and management and limited access to capital (Agwu and Emeti, 2014). Small-scale businesses/enterprises in the rural sector can take advantage of cooperative societies as a promising strategy to improve their businesses. By engaging in cooperative societies, owners of small-scale businesses in the rural sector can take advantage of benefits that accrue to co-operators. Usually, in the cooperative, membership is usually attached to some responsibilities (including financial/social) which in turn would necessitate the drive to take one’s business more seriously as a member of the cooperative. In the cooperative society, members are sensitized on new markets and opportunities that they can take advantage of in the business.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria many still faces serious challenges such as poverty, hunger, disease, etc. Many persons in the rural sector count themselves as unemployed or poor farmers, and are looking up to people in the urban centers (cities) or the government to help them better their lot. This scenario is uncalled for; it could be likened to suffering in the midst of plenty, given the vast agricultural and environmental resources that abound to the rural sector. While the residents of rural communities engage in small holdings farming which could be classified as small-scale businesses/enterprises, it is important for them to enhance these enterprises by membership of cooperatives. Members of these rural communities can form themselves into farming cooperatives, or other forms of cooperative. The need to improve and enhance the income of residents of the rural sector by helping them acquire better management of the businesses they do has given rise to such a study as these. Better managerial of businesses would lead to higher efficiency which would in turn lead to better output (for individuals, households, and communities), and by extension the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine themanagement of business opportunities for cooperative societies in Nigeria. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0:Membership of cooperative societies does not help in management of business opportunities among members of cooperative societies.
H1:Membership of cooperative societies does help in management of business opportunities among members of cooperative societies.
The study will be of good help to policy makers, the government and those who are interested in improving their businesses or forming cooperative activities by which people take place in formalized long-term, deliberate and to great extent, specified form in the social and especially economic share of human endeavour. This study seeks to contribute to the emerging body of knowledge on how best to make cooperative societies to be more productive, it will deepen the understanding of the values and principles of cooperatives, incorporating them into competitive strategies relying on cooperation, trust loyalty as coordinating forces of economic activities and as sources of competitive difference in agricultural system. The underlying argument of the study is that cooperatives, based upon some principles represent a unique third way of social organization that enhances technology development and extension markets information and organization, and government policy, it is particularly useful in cases of simultaneous markets and government failure to assure adequate credit, input delivery, technology training, output delivery and social development in poor areas of Africa.
Similarly, this study is of great scholarly importance as concerning students whose research problems may be related to this present can use it as a spring board or reference material for their own work.
It is also hoped that, this work would provide avenues in which cooperative will adopt the socio-economic stability of their members.
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
The study is based on the management of business opportunities for cooperative societies in Nigeria.
1.8LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Cooperative: Cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs, and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Cooperative Effect: Is the degree of extra satisfaction which a member derives as a result of participating in the cooperative compare to working alone.
Economic: Relating to trade, industry, and the management of money.
Promotion: The activity of helping something to develop or increase.
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