Life in Africa - USA
Comment by John Berger
Im glad you started this thread. To be honest, we have had some similar change of thoughts about coops at TEN. Because we work in a lot of different countries we though coop would be a well understood model. It will work for us in some places, but we are finding the vast majority of the survivors just want a job and don’t really have the interest or capacity to be entrepreneurs. Plus, they are often very distrustful of their own community as there often have been many betrayals leading to, and part of their slavery.
One of our most successful partners was spending a lot of time struggling with this, and the eventually decided to spin of the business into a separate for profit company that is owned by a UK fair trade company (we are also thinking of investing in them). The feedback we are getting is that this is working much better than the old way as the survivors feel a real prestige to be working for a foreign company.
I don’t post that as a solution to your problems, just one example.
One of the big problems I have had with the whole coop thread, and to be honest with the bananas program is that there is an underlying anti-capitalism, anti-establishment gestalt that keeps popping up. The only thing that should matter is what is best for your members, not some idealistic theory.
I don’t know your members. Do they want to be owners, or will they be happy with good jobs. Do they have entrepreneurial skills? Do the trust each others economic motives? What do they want with their lives? What would they want if you and LiA did not exist? Does what they want differ from other community members?