Starting in 2019, three implementing partners of the USAID Cooperative Development Program (CDP), Global Communities, NCBA CLUSA, and WOCCU, joined forces to conduct a Social Systems Network Analysis (SSNA) in Kenya with support from Root Change. The CDP partners were interested in understanding relationships among emerging and established actors in the Kenyan cooperative sector to discover entry points for their own programming to support cooperative networks and build capacity of cooperative support organizations. As Virginia Brown, NCBA CLUSA Program Manager, explains, “Cooperatives are a specific type of business that need a specific ecosystem to thrive.” Since all three organizations have the same goal to improve the system in which cooperatives in Kenya operate, it made sense for them to collaborate and share costs to conduct the SSNA and to use the results to determine the most effective way for the three organizations to complement each other’s activities.
Over the course of 6 months, the CDP partners launched Ushirika Hub, using Root Change’s participatory network mapping platform, Pando. Ushirika is the Kiswahili word for “cooperative,” and Hub was used to convey a sense of convening or coming together. The mapping focused on 6 counties in Kenya where the CDP partners are working; each organization chose two target counties to include in the initiative. While each organization was more well-known in the counties where it operates, Lydia Omamo, NCBA CLUSA Kenya Country Coordinator, says, “We presented ourselves as one program with one goal.” This was true both in the branding of the initiative and in the activities carried out.
In a new article for Root Change, author Rachel Dickinson explored how Global Communities, WOCCU and NCBA CLUSA collaborated to create a Social Systems Network Analysis of the cooperative ecosystem in Kenya and how the three organizations also co-sponsored two sets of events that brought cooperative stakeholders together.