News  >  Blog

VIP Profile: Gordon E. Lindquist

Published 02/14/2012 by Global Communities

VIP Profile: Gordon E. Lindquist

Rwanda, January 2012

Developing Governance and Capacity of Local Cooperatives

Cooperatives in Rwanda were formed as recently as 2007 based on legal provisions which transformed associations of people living with AIDS into cooperative businesses. Some support to facilitate this kind of broad transformation was made available but still much more is needed. Issues such as understanding and strengthening of the systems of cooperative governance, developing cooperative boards and their role and responsibility, or general membership development, need to be continuously attended to since they are essential to ensure proper functioning of cooperative organizations. At this time, around 5000 cooperatives are registered in Rwanda. However, many of them are still weak and in need of assistance to achieve their economic goals.  Also assistance with financial aspects, transparency and accountability as well as member equity and benefits are greatly needed.
Gordon Lindquist has been working with cooperatives throughout his professional career, for the last 35 years with Mutual Service Insurance Companies. Since his retirement in 1990, he has served as a volunteer assisting cooperatives around the world focusing in particular on governance and cooperative board issues.  In 1994, he was recognized for his cooperative work with induction into the U.S. Cooperative Hall of Fame. Gordon also served on CHF Board since 1990 and as Chairman between September 2010 and September 2011.
To benefit from Gordon’s vast experience and knowledge of cooperatives, EMIRGE program was glad to host Gordon in Rwanda with a scope of work which focused on trainings for the Rwandan Partner Organizations (RPOs) and for CHF staff.  During the first week of his trip to Rwanda Gordon has worked with the Economic Strengthening and EMIRGE teams, visiting cooperatives in the field as well as Rwandan officials in Kigali. He gathered information on the current status of legislation and practical issues facing cooperatives so as to better prepare his training sessions. He reviewed training modules on governance used by EMIRGE team and offered advice on making them more useful.  In the second week of his stay Gordon conducted a cooperative governance training in front of 35 people including RPOs representatives and Rwandan Cooperative Agency officials. He raised interesting issues and facilitated follow up discussion among workshop participants.
The second Cooperative Board and Management workshop allowed over 50 participants, all members of cooperatives from CHF-assisted programs, to focus on management, overall leadership aspects, and decision-making processes. Said Milton Funes, CHF-Rwanda Country Director: “Gordon did an excellent job. All are enjoying his visit and learning from him.”