Global Communities cooperative development

Cooperative Development

Cooperatives are internationally recognized mechanisms for effectively developing financial and economic growth for like members within an economy. In the development context, cooperative structures have proven to be a successful strategy for individuals to pool resources and skills toward a common economic goal and can be especially so in transitional economies where people often lack capital or access to capital and where vocational or technical skills are limited. 

As a methodology, cooperative development is inherently local, building on the identified mutual needs of community members, the pooling of resources, sharing of expertise and leveraging of collaborative efforts to achieve levels of effort that could not have been attained individually. Cooperatives also take advantage of the economies of scale gained from collaboration, in areas such as logistics, marketing, finance, sales and more.  External linkages to supplies, markets and access to credit are facilitated by aggregating supply and demand to a level that provides the cooperative with bargaining power greater than that of each member individually. 

How is Global Communities involved in the cooperative movement?

Global Communities has been a leading force in the cooperative development movement starting with the U.S. cooperative housing movement in 1952. Global Communities has since expanded its expertise, programs, and geographic scope to provide individuals and communities around the world with the necessary tools to improve their lives. Global Communities is a member of the Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC).

Applying best practices around the world

Global Communities is applying a variety of existing best practices and methodological tools to help cooperative stakeholders improve their performance in Mongolia and Rwanda. The Enabling Market Integration through Rural Group Empowerment (EMIRGE) project aims to improve the incomes of small-scale farmers by enabling small agricultural groups to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. By utilizing a market-based approach, EMIRGE links these groups to an existing demand to help drive their growth, increase production quality and raise incomes and quality of life for small holders and their families.

Through the Cooperative Development Program, launched in 1998 and now in its third phase, Global Communitieshas been helping to create and sustain local employment, contribute to local economies through improved farming and marketing techniques and include community members, who previously did not have a voice, in their own economic development. The PACE methodology (Participatory Action for Community Enhancement), which widely used today across Global Communities' programs worldwide, was perfected and tested under the Cooperative Development Program. At the same time, lessons learn from the Cooperative Development Program continue to shape other Global Communities projects—asset building groups (ABGs) in Ethiopia and South Sudan and integrated savings and lending groups (ISLGs) in Rwanda and based on cooperative models.

Highlights of the past achievements of Global Communities' Cooperative Development Program include:
  • Poland (1991 - 2000) – Established local non-profit agencies resulting in construction of more than 2,000 new cooperative housing units
  • South Africa (1998 - 2004) – Nearly 200 new housing units were developed by the Amalinda Cooperative Settlement Project under the Housing Subsidy program
  • Bosnia (2004-2009) – Worked with cooperative organizations to create an improved environment for cooperatives, following the post-war destruction of economy and social structures
  • Philippines (2004 - 2007) - Helped the Cooperative Development Agency (CDA) design and implement a country-wide database to collect and maintain information about local cooperatives
  • Mongolia (2010 - present) – Through EMIRGE, Global Communities is building the capacity of dairy producers, training group members in new skills in the areas of animal husbandly, crop production, silage making and milk production and helping members make investments in improved livestock shelters and livestock quality
  • Rwanda (2008 - present) – Through EMIRGE, Global Communities is teaching cooperative farmers how to form integrated savings and lending groups (ISLGs) in conjunction with programs assisting people living with HIV/AIDS

To learn more, please download the Cooperative Development Factsheet.

Examples of Global Communities' Cooperative Development success stories: