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MONTALBAN, RIZAL – Cooperative Enterprises Build a Better World, says the United Nations.
And Care Filipinos Multi-Purpose Cooperative is one prime example of that maxim.
“As far as we know, we are the only coop that produces from parts. Other coops
buy units and just pass it on. There are other enterprises that also assemble these electric bikes but they are not cooperative enterprises,” Aaron Negapatan, CFMPC General Manager says.
In 2010, Negapatan purchased two imported electric bikes from Japan. He relates that when they opened up the bike and saw its parts, they realized that it was not “Made in Japan” but rather “assembled” in Japan with China parts. So that gave the co-op leaders a good business idea.
With co-op funds, Negapatan went to China to look for parts that the co-op could import.
By 2011, CFMPC assembled its first e-bike.
So far, business has been brisk as the co-op has sold 800 e-bikes in less than two years. That is an output of more than one e-bike a day. Local governments are their biggest clients, followed by individual customers.
CFMPC expects that the big motorcycle manufacturers will launch electric bikes in the market by 2013. “We are not threatened,” says Negapatan. “Lalaban na lang kami sa pricing. Hindi naman sila mag release ng mura!” (We will fight it out in pricing. Their prices will definitely be higher!)
CFMPC indeed has a distinct advantage because it can recycle used and even dilapidated gas-run motorcycles. “Kaya namin palitan ang motor ng mga lumang motorsiklo at mga traysikel. Pinapaltan lang naming ang motor ng mga ito, at papalitan ng electric motor,” Negapatan says. (We can replace the old gasoline engines in old tricycles with an electric motor.)
“Kahit nga ang mga bulok na pampasadang traysikel – kahit mga bulok na malapit nang itapon – kaya naming i-recycle,” he says. (Even the public-utility tricycles that are so dilapidated – we can rebuild.)
He adds that there are some motorcycle owners who refuse to throw away their dilapidated machines for sentimental reasons, and CFMPC offers hope. A conversion kit for old tricycles costs only P93,000. It includes five batteries with a one-year warranty.
Some may think that at P93,000 pesos, they might as well purchase a new unit. But Negapatan sticks with his guns, saying the initial cost will easily be recouped by the zero gasoline consumption.
Negapatan boasts that their products are viable and of excellent quality.
Not only is the e-bike environmentally friendly, it is also economical. The package comes with a one-year warranty. And while most car batteries are wholly replaced when even just one plate is damaged, CFMPC can replace individual plates. “We change only the plate that is damaged for P100, instead of replacing one whole battery that costs thousands,” Negapatan adds.
Soon, CFMPC will release a 14-20 seater vehicle that can run for 150 kms between charging. Maximum speed will be 45 to 50 kilometers per hour, and climbing capability is up to 15 degrees.
CFMPC has more than 300 members, mostly local residents. Employment generation stands at 15 workers in the production line and it could increase as the co-op’s leaders foresee growth in the next few years.
In 2013, the co-op leaders will work to get exemption from importation taxes from the Department of Finance, but Negapatan admits that the process is very long and tedious and there are many requirements.
The leaders feel that whatever difficulty they may face in getting tax exemption is nothing compared to what they had gone through. They remain optimistic. Negapatan recalls: “Nung araw, kung sino ang negosyante nakiki-partner kami. E ngayon, naka-ipon na kami para sariling building – nag-sarili na kami.”
A businessman had attempted to buy them out of the business with a modest fortune but the members were convinced that they could make it on their own. And almost two years later, they’re still on their feet!
And growth continues. Negapatan says the workers now work faster and they even teach their dealers in trouble-shooting. He also continues to go to China to study. Asked how he communicates with the Chinese, he says that he used to be an entertainer overseas and can speak Chinese.
Can the motor be manufactured in the Philippines? Negapatan’s positive reply was quick: “Motors can be manufactured in the Philippines – if funded. We need about P80 Million in investment to do that and we are inviting other co-ops who want to engage in social enterprise to invest.”
“May mga lumapit sa amin na negosyante na gusto makipag-sosyo pero sinasabi kaagad namin sa kanila na para sa mahirap and negosyong ito!” (Businessmen come to us offering to be co-investors but I tell them this is for the poor.)
For more information, interested co-ops may visit the co-op’s website www.electricbicycleph.com or contact CFMPC through e-mail