As Winds of Peace has increased the number of cooperatives with whom it has worked in recent years, the total number of cooperatives has been on the rise, as well. Our partners are essentially agricultural coops, with a growing accent toward some of the grassroots coffee cooperatives. These are sometimes complex organizations which possess a great deal of potential when they are organized and managed effectively, just like any other business enterprise. We have been willing not only to fund some of these groups, but also eager to make available to them some of the tenets of shared ownership that we have experienced here in the U.S.; the worlds are not as far apart as one might imagine.
Toward that end, Winds of Peace has commissioned a study on cooperativism in Nicaragua so as to better understand the history and context of why the coops function as they do, and whether there are opportunities to strengthen them beyond basic funding. The study has been undertaken by researchers Rene Mendoza and Edgar Fernandez, two well-respected, Nicaraguan practitioners of organizational and rural development. The first draft of their work is revealing some important perspectives that will be useful in Winds of Peace development of its programming and funding.
Rene has also recently written an article titled The Boom of the Coffee Cooperatives (PDF) about the direction of the coffee cooperatives specifically, one which is intriguing and insightful. We’ve also posted it under the Rural Development page on our website for anyone with interest in gaining some understanding in the evolution of the coffee coops as we work with them.