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The Ayala Coop success: Embodying the Ayala culture

by Bert A. Ramirez

The Ayala Coop’s story started 26 years ago when 21 employees from the Ayala Group of Companies set up a cooperative with a capitalization of only P10,000.  While ownership of the Coop does not fall under the umbrella of the conglomerate but that of its members, the Coop, bearing the Ayala brand, had to adhere to the basic values the conglomerate stands for.  That being so, its business practices strongly embody those of the legendary business group and its subsidiaries.

The Ayala Coop prides itself with being the only coop in the Ayala Group, with its members coming from the more than 100 companies and subsidiaries of the conglomerate, the oldest in the country at 187 years.  It is fortunate that it is able to access the conglomerate’s technology, business practices and facilities, with the members of its board of directors coming from the different companies under the group.

The Ayala Coop’s 26-year history has been a story of innovation, creativity, partnership and caring for its stakeholders.  The Coop, true to its vision of diversity and excellence as well as its mission of uplifting its members’ life, has always been about reaching out, linkaging and resource-building.  But the growth it made to become one of the country’s biggest cooperatives today really started in 1998 when it decided to launch its first membership campaign after counting with just 187 members in 1997, and then went nationwide a year after that.  As the Coop caught on before a larger group of people with that expansion, it ramped up its recruitment and marketing efforts through stronger communication channels, which now include social media, a dedicated customer service unit, field visits, and participation in Ayala Group employee activities.

One advantage

Members of the Ayala Coop from Bank of the Philippine Islands are shown during one of the chapter meetings the Coop regularly holds in various part of the country to keep close to its members.  The Coop’s success may be attributed to its constant interaction and accessibility to its members regardless of their location in the country

One advantage that the Ayala Coop has over other coops is the fact that it has a dedicated team that solely focuses on its operations.   Unlike most coops whose  teams are normally also made up of employees in the company they’re regularly employed with, the Ayala Coop is totally composed of an independent group of personnel fully dedicated to the Coop’s activities and to addressing its members’ needs.  Having access to the Ayala way of conducting business, the Coop is also able to benchmark the conglomerate’s policies and processes vis-a-vis its banking outfit, including the observance of audit standards.  Of course, the synergy that the Coop gets in being able to partner with companies under the group is an added advantage that most other coops are not privileged to have.

In time, the Ayala Coop grew into a bigger enterprise, fueled by that advantage and armed with an unwavering faith from its pioneers, a generous dose of creativity by its managers led by a full-time GM, and the steadfast trust of its members.  By the end of the next decade, in fact, the Coop has grown by leaps and bounds, recording unprecedented growth not only in membership but also in membership equity, assets, loans released, revenue, and, of course, authorized capitalization, when an authorized share capital of P168,000 in the beginning rose to a phenomenal total of P1.5 billion some two decades later.

Business practices resembling Ayala’s 

Such growth no doubt was fueled by business practices that strongly resemble those in the Ayala Group, including innovative loan products the Coop has made available to its members as well as its more customer-centric activities.  The Coop has positioned its products and services to be more relevant to its members’ needs, and on top of this endearing trait it has developed, it also forged a greater synergy and increased tie-ups with Ayala companies.  Partnerships, in fact, with Ayala companies like Ayala Land, AC Motors, AC Health, Ayala Hotels and Resorts as well as non-Ayala retail stores and similar entities provided discounts as additional perks for its members as well as softer terms while they avail themselves of certain loan products.  This has necessarily provided an opportunity for the Coop to be embraced more by its public.

It was not surprising that for four consecutive years, the Coop posted an increase in membership, with the number of members rising from 25,431 in 2014 to 27,736 in 2015, breaching the 30,000-mark the following year with 30,078 and going further up to 33,618 in 2017 and 37,221 in 2018.

It also registered growth in assets for six consecutive years, improving from P1.91 billion in 2015 to P2.28 billion in 2016, then to P2.74 billion in 2017 before breaching the P3-billion mark the next year with P3.24 billion.  It then went up some more to P3.78 billion in 2019 and to P3.95 billion during the Coop’s 25th year in 2020 before breaking the P4-billion plateau this year with P4.2 billion.

Now, the Ayala Coop is one of the biggest in the country, with such figures complementing other business indicators such as a P3.5-billion total in members’ share capital and a loan portfolio amounting to P2.5 billion.

Many recognitions

The Ayala Coop team led by GM Dina Orosa is shown with pupils of the CENTEX (Center of Excellence) School in Bauan, Batangas who received 521 school kits under the Coop’s school kits program, one of the oldest advocacies the Coop has undertaken.

             Such business growth didn’t escape the attention of the Coop’s external public, with the Cooperative Development Authority itself recognizing the Ayala Coop in 2014 as the 14th-ranked coop among 23,600 registered coops in the country at that time.  The Makati Cooperative Development Office also recognized the Coop as the best-performing cooperative in terms of asset growth and membership growth for four straight years from 2017 to 2020, and the City Government of Makati acknowledged it over the same period for its active participation in corporate social responsibility activities with “significant concern” for the community nationwide.  The Coop just earned a Hall of Fame status from the MCDO this year because of those accomplishments.

But true to its caring nature, the Ayala Coop is proudest of having been able to make a difference in people’s lives, both among its members and in the community at large.  The wide array of loan facilities it has made available at the easiest possible terms, from the seasonal promo loans to the now-increasingly popular housing loan, along with the good return on investment and the excellent customer service it provides its members, is of course at the core of its mission to help.  The Coop has also reached out to its people during times of calamities and disasters as well as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, opening calamity loans and special promos like the Damayan loan and providing financial assistance to member victims of the pandemic as well as those of various typhoons that have hit the country over the years.

Sharing its blessings

The Coop team is shown with pupils of the Sta. Cruz Elementary School in Ligao, Albay during the turnover of a toy library to the school.  It is one of the many toy libraries donated by the Coop to different public schools in the country in partnership with the Corazon Atayde Memorial Foundation and the Philippine Toy Library Institute as part of its education advocacy

With its excellent business results, however, the Ayala Coop has not only served as its 37,000-strong membership’s premier succor but has also enabled it to share its blessings particularly to the young and less fortunate sectors of society.  It has undertaken many advocacies particularly in education, which has been at the heart of its CSR programs since 2011.  A school kits program that has distributed some 22,876 school kits worth P11.4 million to public schoolchildren throughout the country and other programs such as the L.E.T.S. or Learning English Through Stories Read Program, the APEC or Affordable Private Education Center scholarship program, the Storybook Drive, the Brigada Eskwela Project dubbed Brigadang Ayala where the sense of volunteerism of its members and Ayala Group colleagues has been showcased, and the “Be Juan Para sa Kalusugan” Program, a feeding program for undernourished schoolchildren, have been undertaken by the Coop over the past 10 years, making the Department of Education consistently recognize it as one of its “Top 100 Private Partners.”

Ayala employees are shown being attended to by Philippine Red Cross volunteers during one of the bloodletting activities regularly sponsored by the Coop among its members to help produce more of this valuable life-saving commodity.

But the Coop has also extended its benevolent reaches to other sectors, having been involved with various activities designed to either benefit the environment and society or raise funds to help various groups or projects.  It has been an active partner of the Philippine Red Cross while undertaking an annual bloodletting drive among its members, Ayala Group employees and their friends, and has also been involved in the Kalikasan project designed to protect the environment in collaboration with the CDA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  It has also assisted micro and small coops under the CDA’s Big Brother, Small Brother Program in terms of donating equipment and funds as well as connecting these groups to Ayala companies to promote their products and services, including rice and vegetable farmers’ coops to Ayala Hotels and Resorts, the PNP SAF Coop, the Balikatan Coop composed of blind masahistas, and the Rizal Coop.  The Coop has also reached out to the military and police sectors through the “Saludo sa Serbisyo” project under the Big Brother, Small Brother Program, and even partnered with Clark Water and the Clark Development Authority in feting some 2,000 Aeta kids with a Jollibee meal treat.

Pandemic response

During the pandemic, the Ayala Coop also reached out to the community at large, distributing meal packs to affected families. Here, some 500 meal packs may be seen after having been unloaded from the plane that transported them for distribution to the recipients in Barangay Luz in Cebu.

During this coronavirus pandemic, the Coop reached out to the community at large by continuing to partner with the CDA, the Ayala Foundation, the Ayala Business Club and Rise Against Hunger, Philippines in donating some 5,000 sets of personal protective equipment to the Philippine Medical Association as well as 14,000 meal packs to affected families and victims of other calamities.

Through all these CSR activities, the Coop has not forgotten the reality that for it to continue to succeed and help more people, it has to look after the members of its own team and their development, constantly looking for opportunities to improve their skills through various trainings and exposure to upgraded backroom tools and equipment, which include new systems and upgraded IT facilities.

Indeed, the success story of the Ayala Coop is not merely based on the business fundamentals that any financial organization observes.  Over and above the financial element, what has spelled the immense success that the Coop has reaped are the values it has adopted from the conglomerate under whom its members work and the application of those values to its operations.  In the final analysis, the Ayala Coop’s rise as a multi-billion peso coop can be attributed to its having transformed those values into an ability to serve its various stakeholders – its members, its team and the larger community – using the most creative, efficient and caring standards it has set for itself.