A new report by Cooperatives Europe together with the Co-operative College shows how co-operatives impact on the development of Africa. The document showcases 21 best practices from various African co-operatives. It highlights how co-operatives empower youth and women, bring significant improvements to their wider community, foster fruitful international co-operation opportunities and promote key economic and social innovations.
The best-practice paper was produced through the Cooperatives Europe Development Platform, a network of European co-operative organisations working on development policy and implementation. The case studies show the rich diversity of the movement in Africa.
In Uganda the Kigayaza Cooperative helps young farmers benefit from networking, training and knowledge exchange. Since 2007 the Subeng Dinosaur Youth Cooperative in Lesotho has been encouraging people to visit the dinosaur footprints they have found near their community. They provide guided tours as well as produce handicrafts to sell. In Morocco groups of women have been organising themselves into co-operatives based around the production of Argan, used in cooking and cosmetics. Namibia also has a small but growing co-operative movement in which women account for 80% of the membership. Transportation is a big challenge for women market traders in West Africa. In Ghana the solution comes from Acca Market Women Transport Cooperative, which buys and manage a small fleet and vehicles, reducing costs and enabling women to spend more time with their families.
Commenting on the publication, Marc Noel, Cooperative Development manager at Cooperatives Europe, said: "We are proud of this document: it shows that, by joining forces, people can change their life for the better if they are given the chance to do so. Where an enabling environment exists, cooperatives and other civil society organisations empower people to take charge of their own development. Policy makers should help to create the conditions for participative and inclusive initiatives like the ones described in our study so that they can be easily realised and replicated."
The report is a follow-up of a conference jointly organised by Cooperatives Europe and the International Co-operative Alliance for Africa as part of the Alliance’s global conference in Cape Town in 2013. Cooperatives Europe will also be publishing a second report on co-operatives in Latin America following a joint seminar with Co-operatives of the Americas.
Photo: members of Cuma agricultural co-operative in Benin, one of the case studies featured in the report