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VIP: Building Community Resiliency Through Cooperatives

Published 03/01/2017 by Global Communities


Building Community Resiliency Through Cooperatives
Visiting International Professionals Elena Gillis, Muhammad Malik, Samad Sadri, and Alison Salisbury
Rwanda-USA, January-May 2016

Are cooperatives making a difference in communities in which they are located? To explore related issues Global Communities partnered with a team of four Master Graduates from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Over the course of spring semester of 2016 the GWU team worked with Global Communities’ EMIRGE team [Enabling Market Integration through Rural Group Empowerment] to review related literature and design and implement a field survey. In March of 2016 the team went to Rwanda to collect the data and by May 2016 issued their findings and analysis of relevant data.

Interviews conducted in field revealed that 77% of respondents agreed with the statement that local cooperative helps to decrease the inequality gap within their community. The following types of benefits achieved through membership in a cooperative were identified:

Higher yields – increased income and sustainable food security
Access to markets and increased prices
Ability to pay school fees
Ability to afford health insurance

Increased sense of community and cohesion
Sense of trust and reliability
Knowledge and idea sharing
Nutritious diet through diverse foods
The 200 surveys also revealed that 83% of respondents are in at least one community group other-than-cooperative, with 34% of respondents in at least 2 groups. These include lending and savings groups, church, or community-organized activity groups. Cooperative members are leaders in these groups thus multiplying the effect of cooperative training, participatory behavior, and collaboration.