THE ATENEO Multi-Purpose Cooperative (AMPC) has decided to revitalize its platform for student participation, encouraging student investors to co-own cafeterias managed by AMPC such as the Gonzaga Cafeteria and the Ignacio Cafeteria, located at the University Dormitory.
Since its establishment in 1975, AMPC has been co-owned by Atenean students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Members, including students, can invest and receive benefits from the cooperative like ordinary stockholders who own shares of stocks in a corporation.
In an interview with The GUIDON, former AMPC Chair Timothy Gabuna explained that being the largest sector on campus, “a significant portion of the student population joining AMPC will translate to expanded membership.”
“It will result in an increased student representation in the AMPC Board that decides vital development plans,” he said.
Gabuna added, “[AMPC membership] is a privilege being offered to students, that they remain not only as customers of the AMPC services, but as co-owners of those businesses as well.”
AMPC Student Representative JC Peralta (M.S. Atmospheric Science) then mentioned that the initiative is being powered by more aggressive promotions through “internet-marketed cutting-edge investment options,” social media campaigns, and dissemination of promotional materials in the cafeterias.
AMPC then and now
According to current AMPC Chair Katherine Soriano, students were the ones who spearheaded building and running the cooperative in its early years. However, student participation in the AMPC “gradually declined” over the years, prompting the cooperative to restore it through extending membership to students.
Soriano then clarified that AMPC never closed its membership to the students, and that they are “always welcome to join the cooperative.”
“Since we only have few student memberships [at present], the AMPC management would like to rekindle the active participation of our students by bringing AMPC closer to them,” she said.
Gabuna affirmed this by pointing out how AMPC used to be the “sole cafeteria business operator on campus,” and that various factors have contributed to such decline.
“Commercial establishments in and off campus, modernization, and hi-tech [innovations], plus AMPC [as] not anymore the exclusive food seller on campus somehow shifted the interest of students from the college cafe to these new choices,” he said.
He also said that there was also a decrease due to the failure of replacing student stockholders who have already graduated.
“Perhaps later students thought that AMPC was only for adults, particularly employees of the university, since that there was no more student leaders in AMPC leadership,” Gabuna explained.
Peralta added that the shift to the K to 12 system also affected student participation in the AMPC.
“With [a] less[er] student population to serve, we expect our revenues to decrease, unless we get more students to invest in us and replenish our capital.”
With the student participation revamp currently in the process, the benefits of such to student investors were also revisited by current AMPC members.
Gabuna explained that membership at AMPC means “co-ownership of the cafeteria operations” in both Gonzaga and Ignacio cafeterias.
“Patrons of these cafeterias are not only consumers, they become the owners of these businesses when they join AMPC,” he said.
According to Soriano, students “receive rebates for patronizing the services of the cooperative,” and “have a share on the profit or net surplus [of AMPC].”
Gabuna also emphasized that AMPC is a “good investment house” for it bears tax-free interest as compared to a bank, as well as it is “less risky, very close to students who need not go off campus to invest.”
Peralta then pointed out that AMPC also offers loans with very low interests and speedy processing times.
Additionally, being a member of AMPC also means that students have a say in deciding matters and in electing the members of the cooperative.
“They will be involved in defining the policies and decision making pertaining to the operation of the various AMPC businesses,” Soriano said.
Helping more sectors
Aside from providing benefits to student-investors, membership at the AMPC also entails substantial contributions from its members who also support various projects in the Ateneo.
Gabuna enumerated the contributions members could provide, such as “additional capital, increased loyal patrons, new business ideas, continuity and sustainability of cooperative membership,” among others.
Soriano then explained how expansion in membership would mean “more opportunity to generate net surplus that can be distributed back to its members and fund various community development projects.”
This is in reference to funds allocated for community development activities, such as the Education and Training Fund, as well as the Community Development Fund, which give financial support to scholars at the Loyola Schools.
Furthermore, Gabuna explained how expanding the AMPC business will provide positive outcomes for the cooperative, particularly to AMPC employees.
“More surplus will enable the AMPC management to increase wages and more fringe benefits to [the cooperative’s] employees,” he said.
Gabuna pointed out that majority of AMPC employees receive salaries above the government-mandated daily minimum wage of PHP 512.
He also emphasized how “[cooperative] membership means working together for common good, working for social justice and equitable distribution of the nation’s wealth.”