A new research group set up in the USA will research and share effective strategies for the development, performance and growth of co-operatives in developing countries. Launched earlier this year with support from USAID, the International Cooperative Research Group is a division of the US Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC).
“Over the next two years, our research agenda will focus on four priority themes that directly relate to promoting democratic principles within the co-operative development sector,” says Dr E.G. Nadeau, research director, who has over 40 years experience in co-operative development. These priorities include the impact of co-operatives on members, including women and youth; the role of good governance in keeping co-operatives democratic; the impact of co-op size and complexity on member benefits and the ways in which raising equity capital keeps co-ops financially strong.
The Research Group works in partnership with domestic and international cooperative development organisations, co-operatives, researchers and donors including the International Co-operative Alliance, Self Help Africa, Oxfam-GB, Euricse, and current OCDC member organisations.
In collaboration with Self Help Africa, an Irish non-governmental organisation, the Research Group will study for member usage and benefits can be increased for malt barley farmers in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Less than 10% of farmer members currently sell their products to co-operatives. The research will aim to identify reasons for potential lack of trust and develop mechanisms to encourage member loyalty.
Another project will see the Research Group team up with Euricse to examine the advantages and challenges of supporting co-operative development in countries that do that have a tradition of co-operation.
The Research Group will also be working with Oxfam-GB to explore the factors and attributes that enable agricultural co-operatives working with smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America to achieve both commercial success and development impact.
A nine member Steering Committee made up of representatives of OCDC’s member organizations oversees the Research Group. These are: ACDI/VOCA, CRI, CCI, Global Communities, HealthPartners, Land O’Lakes, NCBA CLUSA, NRECA, World Council of Credit Unions.
Photo: E.G. Nadeau, research director of the International Cooperative Research Group