NCBA CLUSA recently brought together over 70 cooperative stakeholders in Guatemala to discuss the results of an analysis of the country’s cooperative law conducted through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Cooperative Development Program.
The Congress of the Guatemalan Republic is undergoing reform efforts for the more than 40-year-old law. NCBA CLUSA’s CDP project contributed to this process by using the Cooperative Law and Regulatory Initiative (CLARITY) tool to analyze the elements of the current law that enable and disable cooperative development. The CDP project enlisted Edward Potter, an international cooperative specialist and co-creator of the CLARITY tool, and esteemed local Guatemalan lawyer Dr. Claudia Paredes to conduct the analysis and present the results.
Key findings from the analysis were shared first with the USAID Mission and Directive Board of the National Institute of Cooperatives (INACOP)—Guatemala’s cooperative registrar—and then with a larger, multi-sectoral stakeholder group on October 24 in Guatemala City. Participants included leaders from cooperatives, cooperative federations and confederations, government officials from several ministries, civil society and advocacy organizations, academia and other international development NGOs.
The purpose of the workshop was twofold—to share key findings but also to foster ownership and unity within the cooperative sector to play a bigger role in the law reform process.
“INACOP has made enormous progress and, despite financial obstacles, has managed to implement important modernization processes in support of the cooperative sector,” said Humberto Maldonado, chair of the INACOP Board of Directors. “The CLARITY analysis presented today will contribute to the modernization process required by the sector, and will be of great support for the revision of a law more than 40 years old.”
As NCBA CLUSA’s CDP activities in Guatemala will end in early 2020 due to U.S. Government-mandated funding cuts to the Northern Triangle countries, it was imperative for the workshop to generate stakeholder buy-in and discuss actionable steps for the sector to promote law revisions that will enable cooperative businesses to thrive and benefit their members.
To that end, the Cooperatives and NGOs Commission of the Congress of the Guatemalan Republic invited NCBA CLUSA to present and discuss the analysis and results. The commission chair, staff and other Economy Ministry representatives welcomed the key findings and recommendations and said they will be considered in the new law initiative.
The CDP project also held meetings with the two Guatemalan Confederations—the Confederation of Federations of Savings and Credit Cooperatives and the Confederation of Cooperative Federations—that bring together more than 2.1 million cooperative members in the country to generate more cooperative stakeholder ownership of the analysis so it can be used effectively to help develop a more enabling cooperative law.
Both confederations expressed their satisfaction with the methodology of the analysis and its findings, considering it extremely opportune at the current juncture of the cooperative law revision process. They also expressed their interest in developing subsequent phases of CLARITY (prioritization, strategy and advocacy), and have requested support for the development of an exercise with the cooperative sector at the national level. NCBA CLUSA is exploring the best way to address this request in 2020, given the upcoming project closure.
NCBA CLUSA—one of the co-developers of CLARITY along with other U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) members—has used the cooperative law analysis tool in several countries over the past several years, most recently in Madagascar (2017-2018), Tanzania (2019) and Guatemala (2019) through the USAID CDP program. An analysis is underway in Peru and another will be conducted in Kenya in early 2020.
NCBA CLUSA’s five-year USAID CDP project—Creating an Environment for Cooperative Expansion—operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Peru and Guatemala. Core activities to help improve the enabling environment include reviewing legal and regulatory frameworks for cooperatives, building capacity of local support organizations to provide quality services to cooperatives, and providing tailored technical assistance to cooperatives to improve business performance.