Global commerce platform for co-ops prepares for pilot project

US apex body NCBA CLUSA has partnered with Direct Global on the venture to help co-ops achieve scale and leverage

The apex body for US co-ops has teamed up with a Canada-based co-op buying platform to offer a new global commerce service.

NCBA CLUSA says its partnership with Direct Global/Direct Co-ops will enable co-ops and other small businesses around the world to jointly purchase products, communicate and sell products- retail and wholesale.

They will also be able to vote on co-op products and issues using an inter-co-operative platform that includes full e-commerce functionalities.

Direct Global is a technology company focused on developing and operating platforms that allow purchasers to leverage their collective purchasing power to reduce the cost of procuring raw materials, finished goods and services. Its subsidiary, Direct Co-ops, focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses.

As part of the agreement, a pilot will be launched in Peru, starting with some of the farmer co-operatives which have worked with NCBA CLUSA. It will start with products such as coffee, cocoa and bananas before expanding to include other products such as grapes, asparagus, mangos, blueberries, giant white corn, quinoa and other Andean grains.

The pilot will also seek to involve institutions such as the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Production so that more Peruvian organisations can benefit.

Participation in the platform will be extended to other organisations interested in using it as sellers and/or buyers.

Initial management will be led by NCBA CLUSA but will ultimately be transferred to a new co-operative, which will be formed by interested users of the platform, including Peruvian co-operative apex bodies. This will use transaction fees to provide better and additional services to their member cooperatives.

Once the pilot is working properly, NCBA CLUSA expand it to other countries.

The platform will enable farmers to sell their products directly to US retail co-ops and small businesses through Direct Global/Direct Co-ops’ platform and global network, which includes the Commonwealth, China, the US-Pacific Rim Chamber of Commerce and other partners.

It is hoped farmers will also gain the tools to become more efficient locally, helping them purchase products and vote on issues. This will help make Fairtrade and organic products more accessible to all.

“I am honored to work with NCBA CLUSA, an organisation that has been a pillar of equality for over 100 years, representing over 120 million Americans, and standing at the forefront of social capitalism,” said Ahmed Attia, President and CEO of Direct Global/Direct Co-ops.

“This partnership is the only tangible chance we have with the economic disruption that has taken place, to bring justice to both co-op communities and small and medium-sized businesses in this new age of economic uncertainty.”

Alex Serrano, senior vice president of International Development at NCBA CLUSA, said: “Access to an ecommerce platform has never been more critical. This platform will enable us to be more effective in how we link small farmers to markets, helping them and their cooperatives better navigate a post COVID-19 world.”