cooperative development

The Cooperative Development Lens

Cooperatives are internationally recognized mechanisms for fostering financial and economic growth in developing countries and are particularly effective in transitional economies, where there is limited access to capital and where vocational and technical skills are limited. Cooperative structures allow individuals to pool their resources and skills together to work toward a common economic goal, such as crop production, with the ultimate aim of increasing member incomes and ensuring greater food security. By working together, cooperative members accomplish economic goals and objectives that could not be achieved by one individual alone. 

coop members
Gathering of EMIRGE cooperative members, Mongolia

The success of the cooperative model, in bringing communities out of poverty, is dependent upon adhering to the seven core principles of cooperative development namely:

  • Voluntary and open membership
  • Democratic member control
  • Member economic participation
  • Autonomy and independence
  • Education, training and information
  • Cooperation among cooperatives
  • Concern for community

Global Communities’ work in the cooperative development field dates back to the founding of the organization in 1952 when it was originally called the Foundation for Cooperative Housing. At that time the Foundation for Cooperative Housing was primarily focused on domestic work and built over 60,000 houses in the United States over three decades. Through the 1970s and 1980s, the organization began to employ its cooperative development model in different regions of the world changing its focus entirely to international efforts.

youth coop
EMIRGE Rwanda Youth Cooperative

Our Approach

Today Global Communities’ cooperative development model takes a comprehensive approach and covers a broad spectrum of technical assistance. This includes value chain analyses and market facilitation techniques, targeted agricultural training modules as well as nutrition training and management and financial training. Our cooperative model also continuously applies a variety of monitoring and evaluation tactics to create feedback loops from beneficiaries. This feedback enables our organization to create programmatic “learning components” which reflect on successes and challenges to-date, we then in-turn share this information with other cooperative development organizations (CDOs) and the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC), whose mission is to champion, advocate and promote effective international cooperative development through the Council’s collaboration with an array of development organizations.

Our flagship cooperative development programs are the Enabling Market Integration for Rural Group Empowerment (EMIRGE) program based in Rwanda and Mongolia and the Developing Economic Strengthening Interventions for Group Production (DESIGN) program in Uganda. Through these essential programs Global Communities adheres to the seven cooperative principles through its comprehensive approach to cooperative development.

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