Co-operative College receives £5,000 from Unicorn Grocery 4% fund

The College will use the money to support the development of co-ops in Malawi, whose agrarian economy is vulnerable to climate shocks and high inflation

The Co-operative College has received a £5,000 grant from the Unicorn Grocery 4% Fund, building on the support it received in 2015.

The fund, operated by the Manchester based worker co-op, uses the equivalent of 4% of its annual wage bill to support projects that create ecologically and socially sustainable livelihoods.

Its latest grant will support the College’s work in Malawi, where it has spent the last five years supporting the development and growth of co-operatives. The Malawian economy is based on agriculture which is responsible of one third of  its GDP and 90% of export revenues. More than 90% of the rural population (2.5-3 million households) are smallholder farmers.

The College says business development has suffered in the country because of “economic and climate shocks”. Constraints include a high inflation rate (23.3% in August 2013), a difficultly in accessing finance, and a lack of adequate skilled labour.

To help counter this, the new award will provide much-needed funds to support the development of nurseries for Macadamia Co-operatives in Neno and Organic Coffee Co-operatives in Magoni.

Workers at a Malawian farm co-op

The award will also enable the continued support of tea co-operatives.

Sarah Alldred, projects development manager at the College, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to secure further funding to support our ongoing work in Malawi.

“To date, we have held training sessions for over 7,400 people, teaching them the co-operative ways of working and how they can be transformative, alongside guidance on how to establish their own co-op. This has led to over 320 new co-operatives emerging, transforming lives across the region.”

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