International news June 2015

Ivory Coast A group of farmer co-operatives from Ivory Coast is building 11 new schools and three new health centres across the country. The project is the result...

Ivory Coast

A group of farmer co-operatives from Ivory Coast is building 11 new schools and three new health centres across the country. The project is the result of a $2.4m public-private partnership between the Conseil du Café-Cocoa, Cargill and CARE. The investment in new schools and clinics will provide over 1,650 children with access to education and 25,000 with healthcare services in their local communities.

The 14 co-operatives are using the premium payments for certified cocoa paid to them under the Cargill Cocoa Promise, with additional funding from the Conseil du Café-Cacao and Cargill. CARE has provided the expertise needed to build the new schools and health centres.

The first school was officially opened on 11 June during a ceremony in Manzannouan, in the east of the country. The programme could be extended to ten more farmer co-operatives to enable them to build facilities to support their local communities.

International, Mexico

The World Council of Credit Unions is working with MetLife Foundation to support research into the financial service needs of Mexico’s unbanked population aged between 18 and 35. MetLife Foundation will be providing a $175,000 grant as part of their $200m, five-year commitment to fund programmes and services that help advance financial inclusion across the world.

As part of the project, Woccu will be carrying out surveys with young adults and examining international best practices and the state of the sector in Mexico.

“Woccu and MetLife Foundation share a goal to provide working young adults with access to financial services,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and chief executive. “Woccu has a long history of increasing credit union outreach in Mexico – 44% of the Mexican credit union membership growth has been unbanked ages 18–35. Credit unions have given them access to savings and credit, as they approach their prime borrowing years.”

Woccu is also seeking to identify credit unions to potentially partner with on a future initiative that would develop and test a toolkit for credit unions to give thousands of young adults access to financial services.


Co-operatives produce 60% of the world’s wine, but face difficulties when it comes to marketing and entering new markets. Addressing some of these challenges was one of the key topics discussed at the 4th Global Forum of Wine Co-operatives, which took place at the end of May in Argentina.

Co-operatives produce 60% of the world’s wine
Co-operatives produce 60% of the world’s wine

The event gathered representatives from co-operatives in France, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Spain and Argentina for a debate on how to improve their marketing chains to compete with big wineries. Co-operatives shared ideas and experiences on how they can achieve better results by working together. Last year the Argentina Federation of Winemaking Co-operatives (Fecovita) signed an agreement with co-operatives from the south of France to sell wine in China. Another step taken was to open an office in Sao Paulo to export French and Argentinian wines to Brazil.

“The key is the integration of products and alliances among co-operatives to compete in the markets,” said Eduardo Sancho, president of Fecovita. “The sector is going through a profound crisis due to an existing surplus of white wine, the type of change and deductions that did not favour exports.”

Carlos Lannizzotto, director of the Association of Wine Co-operatives (ACOVI) of Argentina, added: “We know that only 10% of this production is set for direct marketing, which means there is a big deficit. This is one of the reasons why we are forming strategic alliances with different co-operative movements in the world.”


To mark this year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week, Cooperatives Europe has helped organise a workshop on innovation partnerships between local authorities and citizens on energy efficiency investments. The event, hosted jointly with REScoopEU, Euro Coop, Housing Europe and other European environmental organisations, took place in Brussels on 18 June.

Klaus Niederlander, director of Cooperatives Europe and moderator of the workshop, said: “There is still a long way to go for Europe to get itself onto a sustainable energy path. Despite highlighting the central role of European citizens in the energy transition within this year’s energy union communication, the EU’s actual energy strategy is still very much focused on old recipes preserving an unsustainable status-quo. So, the work will continue for local actors to demonstrate the power of people.”

Several other events took place throughout the week that highlighted the important role of citizens under the Community Power, a group of European organisations that advocate for a more central role of citizens in the EU’s energy strategy.



Co-operatives were mentioned in the International Labour Organization’s new labour standard on the transition to the formal economy.

The Recommendation was adopted at the 104th session of the International Labour Conference, which took place on 1-13 June in Geneva. It is the first ever international labour standard aimed at tackling the informal economy and was passed with 484 votes in favour. The document stressed that an integrated policy framework for the transition to the formal economy should include the promotion of entrepreneurship and of different types of business models, including co-operatives and other social and solidarity enterprises.

Speaking at the conference, Bruno Roelants, secretary general of CICOPA, said: “Beyond the formal economy issue, co-operatives and the social and solidarity economy are involved in a wide array of social, organisational and technological innovation.

“Based on its two centuries of experience, and of its on-going dynamism, and increasingly so among the youth, the cooperative movement has really something to contribute to the future of work in general, and to the transition towards the formal economy in particular.”



The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will extend its collaboration with the Rabobank Foundation to boost farming and food security in Latin America, Africa and Asia. The UN body partnered with the Dutch co-operative bank in 2013, when they began working on three projects in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya. Through this programme farmers gained access to financial tools and managed to invest in more efficient production of food crops.

Speaking at the foodFirst conference in Utrecht in June, FAO director genera José Graziano da Silva, said the initiative was “a flagship partnership for FAO”.

He added: “No one organisation can eradicate hunger and reduce poverty alone. Only in partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders can we achieve this.”

The programme has helped rice farmers in the Morogoro district of Tanzania gain access to financial services. In Kenya the project has enabled farmers working with a conservation agriculture project to have better access to loans in the form of seeds. The two are also working with local microfinance lenders in Ethiopia to select rural farming co-ops that can tap into value chains and generate jobs.

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