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


Running Farmers Cooperatives on business Principles:

How can farmers cooperatives become sustainable enterprises? From our field experience, when farmers form cooperatives they must try and maximize chances of those cooperatives succeeding. Therefore, they must see their cooperatives first and foremost as businesses. As such they must succeed in market places, competing with other cooperatives and businesses. To compete successfully, they must do most of the things that other businesses do at least as well as those other businesses. What we have seen at times are the opposite: Cooperatives that have prima facie all attributes of a well founded enterprise, but lack the attributes of being run and managed as business.
Farmers have to see their cooperatives not as an end, but as a means. Hence they must see it as a not a business unto itself but a business model, through which they mobilize their collectiveness to provide services to its members, leverage resources, embed corporate governance, market members produce and utilize economies of scale among other attributes.
Run a business badly and you are likely to fail, whether you’re operating a public company, a partnership, a co-operative or a stall in the market.
Joseph Mulupi Musuya
Cooperative Specialist, Women for Women, Washington D.C.