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Re: Enabling rural cooperatives and producer organizations to thrive as sustainable business enterprises

John Rouse Italy

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.

John Rouse
Rome Italy