Governance training strengthens co-operative, bolsters women leadership

Volunteer support enhances governance and leadership systems and enhances inclusion of women in leadership positions at the Mikoko Co-operative in the southern region of Malawi.

Training improves governance

The Mikoko Co-operative, based in Machinga district in Malawi, ranked high on poor governance and leadership in the co-operative assessment. The business operations and profitability were impacted, which threatened the co-operative’s existence.

A MAFECO officer supports a CDF Canada volunteer, with translation, during governance training.

The Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada) and the Malawi Federation of Cooperatives (MAFECO) offered dedicated needs assessment-based training in co-operative development, which proved successful and is one example of the impact our training has had.

CDF Canada’s VOICE for Women and Girls program and MAFECO targeted 11 co-operatives in the southern region, including the Mikoko Co-operative. They found most had poor governance that negatively affected their operations, profitability and sustainability. Registered in 2012, the Mikoko Co-operative, a rice producer and marketing cooperative, has a membership of 80 women and men.

“Our co-op was on the verge of collapsing. Members started leaving the co-operative because we lacked good leadership, which resulted in a lot of disagreements,” said the Mikoko Co-operative secretary.

Drawing on more than 30 years’ experience with the co-operative and credit union sectors in Canada, two volunteers with mandates in co-operative and credit union development provided governance training to co-operative members on:

More women in leadership

Without a doubt, the Mikoko Co-operative has benefitted from the training and adopted key lessons from it. First, they held an Annual General Meeting. Second, they changed their leadership to include more women. Prior to the training, only one woman out of the nine board members held an executive position – Treasurer. Now, there are three women who hold higher positions within the organization – a Vice Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer – positions that were held by men.

During a CDF Canada visit, members enthused about their governance training and its impact. There is renewed interest from the community on joining the co-operative and membership is increasing.

Women’s increased participation in the co-operatives’ leadership give them confidence and contribute to cohesiveness of the co-operatives. It benefits their members and the women and girls who use them.

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