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Religious organisations tasked on wealth creation, poverty alleviation

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General Secretary, Grace Springs Cooperative Multipurpose Society, Biodun Soderu

Religious bodies have been urged to help citizens grow by creating means of getting funds to finance businesses.

The call was made yesterday at the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Grace Springs Cooperative Multipurpose Society, held at the Fountain of Life Church, Lagos.

According to the General Secretary of the society, Biodun Soderu, who is also a pastor in Fountain of Life Church, the AGM was held to let members know how their money has been managed, challenges faced, and successes recorded in the last one year.

He said: “We are going into our sixth year as a society. God has been so faithful to us since we started. Profit has consistently been growing, from N400,000 to N800,000. And now, we are talking about almost N13m. There was no year we did not record profit since we started. We had 80 per cent increase in the 2017 accounting year.

“It’s not only about the profit; we have had few challenges. But compared with other cooperatives, more than 90 per cent of people pay back their loans at the right time. We have not had bad debt in more than five years. So, good can get better, and better can be best.”

This is the vision of our pastor, Taiwo Odukoya to touch people’s lives; the church helped to set it up, gives guardian but even as a vision of the church, the church does not run it. This is a limited liability company and our office is not in the church so, it’s separated from church. The society is open to anybody, any religion; we have Muslim members, people from other denominations because the project is to empower Nigerians everywhere, we have Nigerians in Diaspora who are members, they transfer money and they also buy land and properties through the society.

Not less than four hundred people have collected loan since we started and they all returned with joy. People collect loan everyday so, we wish that more people, especially churches set up things like this; we have churches that have done this but we can only get better with more
Corroborating, the Treasurer of the society, Atinuke Olashore said, the cooperative was founded as a means of alleviating poverty. Our senior pastor (Taiwo Odukoya) started with founding a vocational school and went further to call us together to form the cooperative society in order to reach out to the people.

We had a surplus of N12, 576,919 in the year 2017; this was due to massive increase in people taking loan, prudent management of the fund by ensuring increase in income. We have 1,200 members because of our track record and low interest rate, at 10%. We’ve always come up with a surplus; people have seen that the management of their funds have been done properly.

We are guided by the Lagos State cooperative and so, they are always in all of our meetings, go through our account and people have seen over the years that we are doing things in the right way.

As usual practice, the management of cooperative societies are supposed to be paid stipends from the profit but we have decided in our church that everything we are supposed to have as management should be put back into the cooperative so, people have seen the kind of things we are doing and they are getting surplus every year. We had an 80% increase in surplus from 2016 to 2017 and this have brought a lot of people out of poverty so, that is why we are able to attract so many people. We want many people to join us and be alleviated.

On her part, representative of the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperative, Mushin area office, Fafunwa Onikoyi Olabisi, while speaking to The Guardian on how Cooperative affiliated to religious bodies are strictly monitored and scrutinised to avoid fraudulent activities, said, “every cooperative society is attached to a supervisory body that comes around every time to check the activities of the society.

There are people who register as society in the name of a church but we find out during verification processes that they do not exist, not even a pastor is aware of the society but they use the address of a church as their secretariat. Once a society is registered, it will be left for a year to operate so, after a year, we go to the address provided to check them but if found not to be what they claimed to be, our legal department is then swung into action and deal with such organisation but GSCMS has done so well with her contribution to the growth of the society.


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