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—among them NCBA CLUSA—to 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.
• Role of good governance in keeping cooperatives democratic
• Impact of co-op size and complexity on member benefits
• 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.
“Ensuring 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,” Nadeau said. “The 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.”
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.
—The International Cooperative Research Group is a division of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC). OCDC’s 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.