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Celebrate the Fourth, Celebrate Cooperatives!


International Day of Cooperatives, held annually on the first Saturday in July, falls on Independence Day in the United States this year.¬†Cooperatives embody the values of democracy, equality, equity, solidarity,¬†self-help and self-responsibility¬†that Americans celebrate on the Fourth of July. As you commemorate independence, the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) is asking co-op members, supporters and its member organizations‚ÄĒamong them NCBA CLUSA‚ÄĒto consider the role organizations such as the International Cooperative Research Group can¬†play in creating a more equitable and sustainable future worldwide. OCDC provided the following press release:

The Fourth of July isn’t only about freedom and fireworks. This year, it’s also about cooperation and equality. On July 4th, cooperative members and leaders will come together to celebrate International Day of Cooperatives, an annual United Nations observance day that aims to increase awareness of cooperatives and promote international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality and world peace.

This year‚Äôs theme, ‚ÄúChoose cooperatives, choose equality‚ÄĚ, resonates deeply with the¬†International Cooperative Research Group¬†(Research Group), a new research entity established by the¬†U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council¬†to study cooperatives in developing countries.With a mission to research, formulate and share effective strategies for the performance and growth of cooperatives in developing countries, a fundamental pillar of the Research Group‚Äôs approach is to examine how cooperatives contribute to economic and gender equality.‚ÄúOver the next two years, our research agenda will focus on four priority themes that directly relate to promoting democratic principles within the cooperative development sector,‚ÄĚ said Dr. E.G. Nadeau, research director. These priorities include the:‚ÄĘ Impact of cooperatives on members, including women and youth

‚ÄĘ Role of good governance in keeping cooperatives democratic

‚ÄĘ Impact of co-op size and complexity on member benefits

‚ÄĘ Ways in which raising equity capital keeps co-ops financially strong

Through the exploration of these themes the Research Group will draw lessons that can be applied systematically to improve co-op performance, for the benefit of all cooperative members.

As active members of the steering committee, representatives from leading organizations in the U.S. cooperative development sector, including NCBA CLUSA, contribute their unique expertise to determine the Research Group’s strategy. The Research Group also partners with international cooperative development partners, cooperatives, researchers and donors to advance its studies.

In July, the Research Group’s first three projects begin.

In partnership with Self Help Africa, an Irish non-governmental organization (NGO), the Research Group will study how member usage and benefits can be increased for malt barley farmers in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Currently fewer than 10 percent of the farmer-members sell their production to the co-ops. The results from this research will be used to identify investments for building the capacity of the cooperatives to best serve members, overcome the lack of trust at all levels and develop mechanisms to encourage member loyalty.

The Research Group will also work in conjunction with Euricse on a project to assess the advantages and challenges of supporting cooperative development in countries that do not have a tradition of cooperation.

A concurrent project with Oxfam-GB will explore the factors and attributes that enable agricultural cooperatives working with smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America to achieve both commercial success and developmental impact.

‚ÄúEnsuring that members of cooperatives in developing countries have the tools and information necessary to actively participate and succeed is a core value of the Research Group,‚ÄĚ Nadeau said. ‚ÄúThe best way for us, as a research body, to do that is by taking an applied approach to research that is accessible and can be implemented by cooperative development organizations, cooperatives and individual members.‚ÄĚ

Cooperatives embody the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity that we celebrate on the Fourth of July. This year, as you commemorate independence, also take a moment to consider the role cooperatives, and organizations like the International Cooperative Research Group, can play in creating a more equitable and sustainable future worldwide.

For more information or to discuss partnership opportunities, contact Nadeau at, 001-608-345-3986 or visit

‚ÄĒThe International Cooperative Research Group is a division of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC). OCDC‚Äôs members include: ACDI/VOCA, Global Communities, Communications Cooperative International, Cooperative Resources International, HealthPartners, Land O’Lakes International Development, National Cooperative Business Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International and the World Council of Credit Unions.

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