Nov 20, 2015
Strengthening a Cooperative Through Vision Building
By: Ann Savage, CNFA Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer and Business Consultant with Savage Enterprises International, and Victoria Treski, CNFA F2F Program Coordinator
This article is a contribution to a four-week blog series celebrating 30 years of USAID’s John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program.
From November 16 – December 11, 2015, partners of the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program are sharing their knowledge and experience in providing volunteer technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. Closely aligned with Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, the F2F Program works to support inclusive agriculture sector growth, facilitate private sector engagement in the agriculture sector, enhance development of local capacity, and promote climate-smart development. Targeted volunteer assignments address host-led priorities to expand economic growth in ways which increase incomes and improve access to nutritious food. This blog series aims to capture and share the experiences of hosts, volunteers, and program partners.
The Congo River is a source of life in the northwest region of Angola, sustaining a variety of agricultural activities and a burgeoning fishing industry. Citizens of this region are hard-working and dedicated, striving to enhance their livelihoods through a process of continual learning, and passing along acquired knowledge to others in the community. In 2013, a group of these farmers from the Municipality of Soyo, Angola established a cooperative named CAPIPAZ. In English, CAPIPAZ stands for Cooperative Agro-Livestock Industry for Fishermen’s Friends of Zaire -a fitting name given the organization’s relationship with both the agriculture and fishing industries. The cooperative collectively farms on 2,385 hectares, growing a variety of vegetables ranging from tomatoes and onions to sesame and okra. The cooperative also maintains a symbiotic relationship with local fisherman, whereby the Board of CAPIPAZ purchases and provides fishing materials to fishermen in return for fish they catch that the Board then sells at the market.
In addition to a booming farming operation, CAPIPAZ members own a restaurant and hotel, both of which provide additional sources of revenue. As their first venture into the tourism industry, CAPIPAZ members were anxious to ensure that their business operations not only succeeded but had room to grow. However, the cooperative lacked management training, as well as an agreed upon strategic focus and formal business plan. After identifying these internal challenges, CAPIPAZ requested assistance from CNFA to work with cooperative members to enhance their business capacity by building their technical skillsets and guiding them to develop a business strategy.