Co-op Conversation: International Development – A Co-operative Approach

The Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives (CCSC) monthly Co-op Conversations (formerly named, “Monthly Brown Bag”) is an online gathering for co-operative sector professionals to learn from others in the field and exchange information in a casual setting.

This month’s Co-op Conversation featured Qian Wan and his talk, “International Development – A Co-operative Approach”. Over the last 30 years, international development agencies have gradually abandoned the top-down approach to economic development that recipients have long criticized as paternalistic, inefficient, and insensitive to local realities. Increasingly, these agencies couch their work as “community-based,” “community-led,” “community-driven,” or “locally-led” development. Rarely, however, do these development efforts structurally embed community voice in the form of a democratic voting mechanism. As member-owned and democratically controlled organizations serving the community’s mutual needs and aspirations, co-operatives by contrast, have long understood the benefits of hard-wiring local voices into economic development.

In this talk, Qian Wan, the Co-operative Development Specialist at CDF Canada and a Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan, introduced the concept of the Integrated Co-operative Approach CDF Canada uses in its international development work. Qian Wan is Cooperative Development Specialist at CDF Canada. He supports the design and implementation of projects to use the cooperative model as a vehicle for local economic development and social resilience. Mr. Wan has experience designing cooperative development strategies to facilitate technology adoption, access to financial services, agricultural value chains, women empowerment, climate-smart agriculture, childcare service provision, etc. He also provides technical support to the program team regarding cooperative governance, cooperative assessment, cooperative start-up, etc.


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