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Co-operative Societies

Co-operative Societies, or co-ops, are associations of persons who have voluntarily joined together to achieve a common social or economic aim by forming a jointly-owned and democratically controlled business organisation. They operate on principles of self-help and mutual assistance. Most co-ops also have social missions to benefit the greater society in which they operate in.

Co-ops are regulated by the Registry of Co-operative Societies (“the Registry”), under the Co-operatives Societies Act (Chapter 62) and Co-operative Societies Rules 2009.

Read more about the legislation and rules for Co-ops.

The Registry’s functions are as follows:

  • Regulating the formation and dissolution of co-ops;
  • Regulating organisation and management of co-ops, so as to protect the interests of co-op members;
  • Supervising credit co-ops so as to promote prudence and accountability; and
  • Overseeing the custody and utilisation of the net funds from dissolution and owing to members

Through facilitating the development of the co-ops sector, the Registry’s work furthers the Ministry’s mission of building social capital and making Singapore home through the promotion of active citizenship.

With inputs from the various stakeholders, the Registry reviews and updates our policies and rules from time to time so as to provide a robust regulatory framework for the proper governance and sound management of the co-ops. This way, Singaporeans and residents will have confidence in the co-op structure and continue to participate in the co-operative movement.

Contact us

Address

Registry of Co-operative Societies 
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth 
140 Hill Street, #02-00 
Old Hill Street Police Station 
Singapore 179369

Tel (hotline):

6337 6597

Fax:

6837 8090

Email:

MCCY_regcoop@mccy.gov.sg

Operating hours:

Monday - Friday: 8.30am to 5.30pm
(closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)


“The growth of the Singapore Co-op Movement must also be credited to the collective efforts of every co-operative and co-operator for their outstanding contributions and their dedication to the Co-op mission of serving the needs of members and society. As the apex body of the Co-op Movement, SNCF will continue to support and facilitate the growth of co-ops. SNCF will continue to do our best to nurture the development of cooperatives in Singapore, to promote the principles of self and mutual help, so as to contribute towards developing a more resilient and cohesive society.”

Mr Chan Tee Seng, Chairman Of Singapore National Co-Operative Federation (SNCF)

There are currently 83 co-operative societies, or co-ops, in Singapore.


See the list of co-ops.

Categories Number of co-ops
Consumer and Services 51
Credit 27
School 5

Consumer and services co-ops provide goods and services to their members to meet their daily needs. Some of these co-ops have become household names, such as:

  • NTUC Fairprice
  • NTUC First Campus
  • NTUC Foodfare 
  • NTUC Income 

While these co-ops are business driven, they are anchored in their social mission to help Singaporeans and residents through moderating the cost of living.

Credit co-ops provide financial services (i.e. take in deposits and/or grant loans) to their members who are within a pre-existing common bond of association or community of interest. The earliest registered co-op in Singapore was the Singapore Government Staff Credit Co-op.

There are also school co-ops which operate in secondary schools and junior colleges that aim to expose students to co-op principles and social entrepreneurship.

There are seven principles governing co-ops.

  1. Voluntary and open membership

    Co-ops are voluntary organisations, open to all persons who are able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

    Notwithstanding the above, the eligibility of an individual's admission into a co-op's membership is confined within the criteria as set out in the individual co-op's constitution and the laws of the jurisdiction.

  2. Democratic member council

    Co-ops are democratic organisations controlled by members, who actively participate in setting their own policies and decision making. This means members vote on policies passed and vote for elected representatives.

  3. Members’ economic participation

    All members contribute equitably to their co-op’s capital. Generally, part of the co-op’s capital is common member property. Usually members get limited compensation for the subscribed capital given as condition of their membership.

    Surplus capital may be allocated for any, or all, of the following:

    • To develop the co-op
    • To set up or build reserves
    • To benefit members in their transactions with the co-ops
    • Supporting other activities approved by the members

  4. Autonomy and independence

    Members of Co-ops are responsible for their own governance, subject to the legislation and any orders by the Registry. If they make agreements with other organisations, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and their co-op autonomy.

  5. Education, training and information

    Co-ops provide education and training to their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so that they can contribute to the development of their co-ops.

  6. Co-operation amongst co-operatives

    Co-ops serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-op movement by working through local, national, regional and international structures.

  7. Concern for community

    While focusing on members’ needs, co-ops work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by the members.

There are four key stages to setting up a co-op:

  1. Setting up a Pro-tem Committee

    Pro-tem Committee must have at least 3 members

    The Pro-tem Committee:

    • Undertakes the feasibility study of the proposed society. A viability statement consisting of the business plan and the cash flow projections (at least 3 years) is to be prepared.
    • Consider the society’s objects and constitution, and
    • Draft by-laws

  2. Seeking the Registrar’s comments

    The Pro-Term Committee, once they’ve completed the feasibility study, submits:


    For your reference, we’ve included here links to guidelines for submitting by-laws of a new co-operative society:


  3. Preliminary meeting

    Once the proposed co-op has obtained the Registrar’s comments, a preliminary meeting will be held with at least ten persons qualified for membership.

    In this meeting, the by-law’s proposed by the Committee and commented on by the Registrar need to be discussed and adopted by the potential members, accepting all the rights, duties and liabilities prescribed within the by-laws.


  4. Membership

    You can apply to be a co-op member if:

    • You are over 18 years old (or over 12 years old if it’s a school co-op)
    • You are a Singaporean citizen or resident in Singapore
    • Meet all the residential, employment and profession requirements, and any such other requirements laid out in the By-laws
    • You are not mentally or legal disabled
    • You are not an undischarged bankrupt
    • You’ve never been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment
    • For credit co-ops: belong to a pre-existing common bond of association or community of interest
    • Institutional membership is open to registered co-ops or trade unions

  5. Application for registration

    To apply for registration as a co-op, the following documents must be submitted:

    1. Application form, download the credit co-op registration form, or the non-credit co-operative registration form
    2. Personal details such as name, NRIC or FIN No, nationality, occupation and address of at least ten potential members 
    3. By-Laws
    4. Business plans and three-year financial projections. Your business plan should contain things like (but not limited to) business strategy, products and service, target customers, expected demand. Financial projections should include your balance sheet, income and expenditure and cash flow statements 
    5. Minutes of the preliminary meeting and signatures of all present at the meeting

After registration

When your co-op is registered, the Pro-term committee manages the co-op until you have your First Meeting.

You must hold your First Meeting within first three months after the co-op receives its notice of registration.

In your First meeting, you need to elect your co-op officers. These officers will be in place until the First Annual General Meeting.


For assistance and advice on setting up a co-operative society

Singapore National Co-operative Federation

Co-ops must submit these documents to the Register:

Type of document Submission date
Notice of Annual General Meeting (AGM) To be submitted at least 15 days before date of AGM
AGM Form To be submitted within 6 months from end of Financial Year
Form A - List of Office Bearers To be submitted within 14 days of any change and at least once a year, within 6 months from end of Financial Year)
Audited Statements of Accounts and Auditors' Report To be submitted within 6 months from end of Financial Year
Annual Report To be submitted within 6 months from end of Financial Year
Notification of Change of Registered Address To be submitted as may be necessary
  1. Read about the amendment of by-laws:

  2. If you are looking to amalgamate or transfer the assets and liabilities of your co-op, please contact the Registry and/or talk to your apex body.

  3. The Registry's contact details

    Address

    Registry of Co-operative Societies 
    Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth 
    140 Hill Street, #02-00 
    Old Hill Street Police Station 
    Singapore 179369

    Tel (hotline):

    6337 6597

    Fax:

    6837 8090

    Email:

    MCCY_regcoop@mccy.gov.sg

    Operating hours:

    Monday - Friday: 8.30am to 5.30pm
    (closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays)

    The apex body

    Singapore National Co-operative Federation

  4. Information on dissolving a co-op:

Written directions are in place for credit co-ops to strengthen their prudence and risk management. These requirements re-focus the credit co-ops towards their core business of thrift and loans, and ensure accountability to their members.

Written directions to date:

Issue date Effective date Description
18 Nov 2013 20 Nov 2013 Written direction – investment restrictions
07 May 2013 10 May 2013 Written direction – submission of financial returns - templates for Form 1 and Form 1A
31 Oct 2011 01 Apr 2012 Written direction – unsecured loans
29 Aug 2011 01 Nov 2011 Written direction – secured loans
21 Apr 2011 30 Jun 2011 Written direction – capital adequacy and restriction on dividend
26 Nov 2010 01 Jan 2011 Written direction – provisions for bad and doubtful loans and impairment loss for investments
12 Mar 2010 31 Mar 2010 Written direction - minimum liquid assets

Submission of financial returns

Credit co-ops are required to submit these returns to the Registry annually:

Type of document Submission date
i. Completed Form 1
  • To report the audited year-end financial position, capital adequacy ratio, minimum liquid assets, restricted investments and loans data

Due 6 months after the close of the previous financial year
ii. Completed Form 1A

iii. Mid-year unaudited Balance Sheet

iv. Mid-year unaudited Income & Expenditure Statement
Due 2 months after end of the current mid financial year
Singapore National Co-operative Federation (SNCF)

The SNCF promotes the co-operative movement and co-operative societies. It also provides co-operative education and training and development. The SNCF represents the co-op movement at national and international levels.

International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)

The ICA is an independent, non-governmental association that unites, represents and serves co-operatives worldwide. Read more about Singapore’s Regional ICA.

Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Singapore (ACRA)

ACRA is the national regulator of businesses entities and public accountants in Singapore. ACRA also facilitates the development of businesses and the public accountancy profession.

Registry of Societies (ROS)

The ROS regulates societies under the Societies Act and Regulations.
Last Updated: 17 April 2014

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