Overseas Cooperative Development Council and Cooperative Development Foundation Host Forum on International Cooperation
OCDC and CDF held a public Forum as part of the “International Year of the Cooperative” declared by the United Nations. “Cooperatives Build a Better World,” held in May 2012 at the National Press Club, focused on the international cooperative development work of U.S.-based organizations. The involvement of U.S. cooperative organizations in overseas activities grew out of the conviction that cooperative techniques, which have helped millions of American families, could be adapted to help poor and low-income people in developing countries. The Forum profiled that involvement and discussed the impact it has had both domestically and internationally. Keynote speaker Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Cooperative Alliance, gave her perspective on the U.S. cooperative community’s role and impact in supporting cooperative economic development around the world. Moderator Gordon Lindquist, Immediate Past Board Chair of CHF International, led a panel of U.S. cooperators who did volunteer development work overseas (Dennis Hill of the ND Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and Claudia Svarstad of the National Farmers Union) and government representatives from countries have benefited from cooperative development (The Honorable Linah Jebii Kilimo, Assistant Minister of Cooperative Development & Marketing, Kenya and Benyamin Carnadi, Economic Counselor, Embassy of Indonesia). To read more about this event and to see videos and photos, click on (2012) International Cooperation at http://www.cdf.coop/cooperative-issues-forum/.
Partners Worldwide Helps a Women’s Dairy Co-op in Senegal
In July 2004 the Sollars Fund made a $5,000 grant to Partners Worldwide to send volunteers to Senegal to assist a women’s dairy co-op. Improved cattle management and milk production will improve the lives of over 300 Pulaar women and their families. The grant was used for the travel costs of volunteer dairy farmers from Texas to and within Senegal to provide technical assistance to the dairy cooperative’s members in co-op purchasing, marketing, business and co-op management, production techniques, sanitation, and facility improvements for the purpose of raising the incomes of the cooperative’s members and their families.
After the volunteers returned home, one of the co-op leaders visited the volunteers in Texas for sharing of best practices and further collaboration has resulted in construction of two feed storage facilities, three corrals, a water storage tank with a pipeline, and a vaccination chute at the dairy; the first phase of the project is fully operational, with 5 new crossbreed calves; and feed and hay are being stocked up. By the end of November, 58 farmers and herders were participating in the co-op, income for participating families had increased by 5% due to better cattle health and management, and the completed dairy facilities can house and handle up to 100 cows.
“Radicals in the Bronx”
In 2004 the Fund made a $5,000 grant to the Museum of the City of New York for its exhibit “Radicals in the Bronx,” which explored the inter-war years’ movement in New York to literally build a better life for the working class. These pioneers built the largest concentration of cooperative housing in the country and helped to create a model for non-profit housing that became in important force in New York City after World War II.
Three NASCO Representatives Visit Co-ops in Japan
In 2004 Mr. Kiriki of the National Federation of University Cooperative Associations (NFUCA) in Japan visited NASCO and suggested that NASCO representatives attend the ICA Asian regional youth seminar that year and offered to host the delegation in Japan on their way home. NASCO raised the money to send four people to the ICA seminar and the Sollars Fund gave NASCO a grant of $1,600 to support the stopover in Japan of the three who were able to go. They made a presentation to NFUCA and visited local cooperatives that provide books, supplies, travel services, dining halls, etc. to universities. The NASCO representatives also visited the Japanese Consumer Cooperative Union (JCCU), which established CDF’s Kagawa Fund in 1998 with a donation of $50,000. There was little memory of the gift or the Kagawa Fund in Japan, so the NASCO visit re-established a connection.
Housing Co-op Leader visits the U.K.
The Sollars Fund made a $500 grant towards the travel of the Executive Director of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives to the U.K. in 2003. He and government officials and consultants from three Canadian provinces went to look at how the government is transferring public housing stock to non-profit landlords and to tenant management organizations, who can maintain as rental or convert to co-op. The complete report resulting from this trip was published in the National Association of Housing Cooperatives’ Cooperative Housing Journal in 2004.
NRECA International Foundation Helps Electrify Cooperatives in Costa Rica
In 1998 the Sollars Fund made a $1374 grant to NRECA Internatioal Foundation to send six young cooperators and two staff to spend 10 days in Costra Rica working with the members of two cooperatives to install solar panels in two schools and learn about rural electrification. The electricity not only enhanced learning at the schools but also enhanced community life, as schools are often the focal point of communities in Costa Roca.
Co-op Housing in Poland and the Philippines
In 1998 the Sollars Fund made a $3100 grant to the Cooperative Housing Foundation to send one volunteer each to Poland and the Philippines. In Poland the volunteer evaluated the community and property management methods in two housing cooperatives and made recommendations to the boards. This benefitted the 105 families in the two co-ops. In the Philippines the volunteer worked with the National Housing Authority to select housing cooperatives to participate in a pilot project to test models of co- op housing development and investigate financing possibilities. He made recommendations on how to strengthen the participation of housing co-ops members in their management and how to attract private financing.
Cooperative Development Institute Tour of Atlantic-Canada Cooperatives
In 1998 the Sollars Fund supported this tour with a grant of $1,125 that funded the participation of the Executive Director of Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund. This six-day tour concentrated on two integrated systems of cooperative development, the Co-op Atlantic system of food cooperatives and the Caisse Popular (credit union) movement. The Executive Director benefited from seeing first-hand two very successful cooperative systems working in a part of the country that historically has been very poor and from spending some concentrated time with other cooperative development professionals from around the country, discussing issues of mutual interest. The tour resulted in concrete examples of successful cooperative development and a context in which to explore cooperative development.
Assisting Brno Cooperative Bank in the Czech Republic
In 1992 the Sollars Fund made a $2327 grant to send an employee of the National Cooperative Bank to spend four months at Brno Cooperative Bank installing and configuring a multi-lingual, multi-currency banking software system and training 15 people in its use. Since then the bank was very successful, receiving deposits on the day of its opening and being ahead of other banks due to its up-up-date software and consequent ability to offer more complicated loans to institutional borrowers, many of which are agricultural cooperatives.