Thinking Big or Thinking Different?
My colleague Janos' response on Peter Steele's provocative comment was right on-target. Successful self-reliant cooperatives businesses are built from the bottom-up, not the top-down-- and that takes time. It's a step-by-step group learning process in which rural producers, often with little or no experience in doing business together, learn how to cooperate and run a group business, accumulate capital and make it grow. "Thinking Big" can sometimes be part of the problem, not part of the solution. One has only to look at the dismal performance of many of the large federated cooperative structures set up in many African and Asian countries during the early post-independence period to understand this. They thought "big" but not "different"--to steal a phrase coined by Apple co-dofounder Steve Jobs.
Read more about the facilitators
Related links and resources:
FAO's website on cooperatives and producers organisations
World Food Day
Good practices in building innovative rural institutions to increase food security
Agricultural cooperatives: paving the way for food security and rural development (Brochure)
My.Coop - Managing your agricultural cooperatives
The Group Promoter's Resource Book
The Group Enterprise Resource Book
The Group Savings Resource Book
The Inter-Group Association Resource Book
New Strategies for Mobilizing Capital in Agricultural Cooperatives
Computerizing Agricultural Cooperatives: Practical Guidelines
Cooperatives: Has their Time Come or Gone?
Agricultural cooperative development - A manual for trainers
Capital Formation in Kenyan Farmer-owned Cooperatives: a case study