Women overcome barriers to lead co-op’s membership growth

There is a new wave of women resurgence in co-operatives, which is bringing dynamism, creativity, and innovation to these member-run organizations. It is also bringing a spirit of unity, belonging and a can-do attitude, and enthusiasm that is engaging communities.  

Women’s resurgence and confidence in co-operatives are the result of different training approaches of the VOICE for Women and Girls Program, including co-operative development training. The goal is to mobilize economic growth for women and for the benefit of their communities. 

Through training, co-op members learned what a co-operative is, its structure, and the responsibilities of leaders and its members to support co-op growth. The training also provided information about the community engagement and membership committees, highlighting their duties, and responsibilities, which are catalysts for change. 

The Kpalbe branch of the Salaga Farmers’ Cooperative took this training to another level. After participating in training, these women did extensive cascading, and developed a simple message, “tell a community member what you have gained from joining the co-operative.” 

One by one, house by house, hamlet by hamlet, friends, neighbours, and acquaintances heard the messages. Women from the Kpalbe branch ignored the barriers of distance, unfriendly temperatures, the drudgery of commuting long distances, to push the boundaries of membership growth. The approach caught on and gradually a splinter of light became an amber of coal; the coal became fire and the fire an inferno. Within two months, the women added 300 new members to their co-operative.  

“We are not done yet, there are those who have accepted the message, we know that there are others who are waiting to see what happens to these few who have joined the co-op,” the chair of the Kpalbe women’s group said. “It takes time for people to accept the new messages and if we can sustain these new members our future going forward looks promising.”  

The women are controlling the reins of change and briming with zeal as they work arm-in-arm to “save” the co-operative. 

“This is the first time we have received any training like this. All along we thought it was the duty of the manager as we didn’t even understand the co-operative approach. Had we known, our co-operative wouldn’t be in the condition it finds itself in today,” one member said. 

Across the other co-operative branches, the women are the most active members who are leading the drive for membership. Other co-operatives have also recorded new members, but the approach taken by the Kpalbe women is breathtaking, unprecedented, and marveling. 

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