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Honiara Solomon Islands

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Monday, 20 November

The Business and Cooperatives Development Unit is responsible for registering and keeping a register of cooperative societies that operate within the Solomon Islands.

This responsibility is carried out by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies who also heads the Cooperative Society Unit within the Division.

The Registrar, along with members of his Unit, carries out this function in accordance with the  Cooperative Societies Act (Cap 164) of 1969.

The Registrar also has the power to de-register cooperative societies as well as to oversee the auditing, inspection and if necessary, the liquidation of cooperative societies. The Registrar and his Unit also ensure that cooperative societies comply with the requirements of the Cooperative Societies Act.

In cases of dispute, the Registrar can conciliate or if necessary, arbitrate or appoint an arbitrator to settle the dispute.

Director’s Note

Greetings from the Office of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies in Solomon Islands!

Indigenous community businesses throughout the country; whether your locality is in urban centers or rural areas, individuals, researchers, students, stakeholders and friends of cooperatives, if you would like:

  • to register your entity;
  • to know more about the cooperative movement in SI;
  • to know about the current status of a registered cooperative society;
  • to legally deregister a cooperative society;
  • to have access to any information or advice regarding a registered cooperative (esp. members) or;
  • any other matter affecting the affairs of a registered cooperative, please contact our office as we are there to assist you.

History of Cooperative Societies in Solomon Islands

Cooperative societies are recognized as a suitable type of business organization in the Solomon Islands. They are appropriate because of the communal ownership of land and other resources. The first attempt to start cooperative movement in Solomon Islands was in 1952 with the first appointment of a Colonial Cooperative Officer but was then collapsed in 1953. The then colonial administration believed that the movement should be seen as a kind of development which portrays self-help, promotes self-sufficiency and promotes good business practices.

In 1957, the co-operative movement was revived with the establishment of the co-operative division, the appointment of the first Registrar of Co-operatives by then Colonial Government and the enactment of its own ordinances and legislation. The Solomon Islands Cooperative Societies Act Chapter 73 now re-numbered to Chapter 164 of the Solomon Islands Laws as well as the co-operative principles. This Act which is currently in force today is under major review.

 It has been utilized as a general guideline whereby co-operatives have been using it as a “policy” in streamlining their operations. In practice, this “policy” is more statutory and regulatory in nature utilized for the purpose of supervision.

The co-operative though has come to light in a hope to bring people together in social and economic participation for their own benefits. The general idea was based on “united we stand while divided we fall”.

Despite co-operatives are another type of business organizations, there are differences, from private businesses. The main difference is motive or objectives of the two or so ways. When people form a co-operative business, their aim is to help each other, so that all benefits are shared equally among them, where as when an individual owns a business, all benefits are kept to himself, thus become richer while the majority remain poor. Rather than one person exploiting the community, the co-operatives’ aims to stop this, thus to group together and help each other for common social and economic benefits. This will not only raise the standard of living among the communities but will also contribute to the economic development of the country as well.

The main emphasis of co-operative development in the Solomon Islands from the very beginning has always been placed on consumer co-operatives in the form of rural trade stores. This is a relatively narrow concept being mainly the distribution of consumer goods together with the idea that co-operatives serve members mainly by way of distributing bonuses at the end of each financial year. This has created a negative image for co-operatives in times where individually or community owned enterprises come into competition with consumer co-operatives and where management problems, in-appropriate use of credits and lack of working capital have led to the collapse of many such societies.

The co-operative division has seen as a narrow concept of co-operation, thus extended wide as productive undertaking in the fields of agricultural production, fisheries, forestry, processing, marketing, and small scale manufacturing. These are not only seen as rural people making use of their resources, but also with an aim of increasing employment opportunities and increase in export earnings.
 

Growth and Fall

In 1952 the first co-operative was formed at a village in Ngella but went out of operation when the colonial co-operative officer had to return to England for his annual leave. Later in 1957, five co-operatives were started in north Guadalcanal and Small Ngella. These co-operatives had a total of 195 members, 750 shares and the year’s turnover was 911 pounds. The first annual report noted that the co-operative movement was department-driven and encountered a profound reluctance rooted in a suspicion of the government’s intention. Nevertheless, once properly informed about co-operation, the idea of co-operatives became popular.

There was fast growth in the number of Cooperatives since its inception up until 1980s when the number had declined sharply with more than half went into liquidation.  However, there was again a growth period in the late 1980s and early1990s.

Since its establishment to the present date the total number of cooperatives been registered is 388, 68% or 265 were been either liquidated or self wound up, 25% or 95 remain dormant and at least 7% or 28 are actively functioning or in their initial stages of operation.

Secondary Association

To date none of the two major Cooperative Associations started in the 1970s are still operating. Both the CCA and the western general co-operative associations were technically bankrupt during 1987 and were been forced to be liquidated.

The difficulties faced by the Secondary Associations include: rapid expansion of operations, sale by credit to primary cooperatives, lack of allegiance of primary cooperatives to the Association.

Apex Body

There has been no national co-operative federation or Apex organization to represent co-operatives in policy making and in other related aspects of co-operative development in the country. Co-operatives rely entirely on the Registrar of Co-operatives for guidance and representation. It is seen yet untimely to establish one though future vision would emerge a circumstance.

Credit Unions

In 1963, rural savings and loans co-operative societies were started in the western province. The 1967 annual report states that it was evident that the savings and loans societies were placing too much emphasis on lending rather than saving. At one stage, there were 13 such societies but they have all since closed.

Credit Unions have since emerged as a strong movement in the country after the passing of the separate Credit Union Act in 1986 and the forming of the Solomon Islands Credit Union League, the national federation for credit unions. The current Registrar for Credit Union is the Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

Other Types of Co-operatives

A number of fishing co-operatives were formed in the country but were all totally inactive due to mismanagement, disregard for advice and petty dissension among members.

Land Purchase co-operatives (LPC) were initiated in the 1970s with the intention of returning alienated land to customary owners and maintaining their agricultural productivity. All 42 LPCs were also totally inactive except one on Guadalcanal plains remains operational.

A number of sawmilling co-operatives were started in the mid 70s, and some were particularly successful. To date none is operational.

There were Rice growers, Pineapple processing, and Honey producer co-operatives started in the 1980s with good potential for marketing locally and overseas. A major obstacle to expansion and become more economical is funding.

Who is the Registrar of Cooperative Societies?

The Registrar of Cooperative Societies may be a public officer or any other person appointed for the position by the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration. A Deputy Director is appointed in the same way. The Director of the Cooperative Society Unit is the current Registrar of Cooperate Societies.

What kind of societies can be registered?

Societies that aim to promote the economic interests of its members in accordance with cooperative principles or a society that aims to facilitate the operations of such a society may be registered as a cooperative society by the Registrar with or without limited liability.

What are Cooperative Society By-laws?

Learn how to register a cooperative societyCooperative Society By-laws are rules that regulate the operations of a particular cooperative society.

Who is responsible for auditing Cooperatives?

The Registrar of Cooperate Societies or a person appointed by the Registrar is responsible for carrying out an audit of each cooperative society. The audits are to be carried out on an annual basis.

What happens if there is a dispute amongst members?

If there is a dispute amongst members of a cooperative society, the Registrar of Cooperative Societies may take steps to either;

  1. Negotiate an agreeable outcome or;
  2. Arbitrate or appoint an arbitrator to settle the dispute.

Appeals on a decision of an arbitrator may be made to the Registrar for consideration. The Registrar’s decision is usually final. However, if a question of law arises from a decision made by the Registrar, that decision may be appealed to the Minister of Commerce, who will refer the matter to a Court of Law for review.

What is the current state of Cooperative Societies?

A recent analysis has revealed that most cooperatives in Solomon Islands lack working capital; are archaically managed and have little or no strategic planning. These cooperatives also suffer from poor leadership and from a lack of rigorous control mechanisms that are necessary to ensure productivity.

The analysis concludes that the key to improving cooperatives’ chances of success lies in internal structural adjustments, the recruitment and training of young professionals, financial autonomy, learning the new techniques of modern management, business efficiency, the formation of co-operatives in new sectors, the creation of co-operatives by women and youth and appropriate human resource development policies and programmes to be adopted by co-operatives

How do I register a Cooperative Society?

Communities and Societies can register a Cooperative Society under the  Cooperative Societies Act (Cap 164) through the following steps:

Check List for Cooperative Registration

Step 1 – Interested group or community should hold an inaugural meeting;

Step 2 – A brief background report should be submitted to the office of Registrar of Co-operatives (ROC);

Step 3 – The ROC may send an Officer to conduct an educational awareness meeting and carry out a survey/feasibility study on the proposed venture;

Step 4 – A full report described in Step 3 should be sent to the office of the ROC;

Step 5 – A set of By-law should be agreed upon and adopted by members of the prospective Cooperative Society;

Step 6 – Three copies of the proposed By-law and an  Application Form for Registration should be forwarded to the ROC with relevant fee.

Step 7 – The ROC considers the proposal. If accepted the Cooperative will be registered; if rejected a notification will be sent to applicant Cooperative;

Step 8 – When registered, Cooperative obtains accounting books and other office necessities;

Step 9 – Commence operation.

List of Cooperative Societies

There are a number of Cooperative Societies registered under the  Cooperative Societies Act (Cap 164) and operating within the Solomon Islands. The full list of Cooperative Societies can be found under the  Directories section of this website.  Contact the Division for more information.

More Information

 Contact the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.

 Learn how to register a cooperative society.