KENYA Formed through four very weak societies coming together to build one strong mutual society, Kathera Farmers has become a true fighter for gender equality, in the toughest conditions.
The cooperative was formed in 2005 from the merging of 4 weak societies that agreed to come together to form one strong cooperative society.
The merging made it possible to purchase and install a joint coffee processing wet mill ( not affordable individually). Ever since, the membership or smallholder coffee producers have grown from 905 to 2944 active members, while production has grown from an average of 150,000 kgs of cherry coffee to an average of 400,000 kgs. The average payment to members has improved from Kshs 28 to Kshs 65 or 0.65 dollars/Kg.
In 2018 when a baseline survey was done to determine the cooperative’s position in terms of various aspects, especially on gender equality. The results of the survey revealed that there were glaring gaps in gender equality and this challenged the board and catalyzed them to move into action.
To ensure gender equality is enhanced, women and youth have been brought on board in coffee farming both as members of the cooperative and in the leadership of the cooperative through affirmative action, e.g. setting aside an electoral area for women and formation of women councils and youth councils in addition to the freedom to contest for the leadership positions in the cooperative.
This cooperative shows us that if you put your mind to it, there is so much you can do in gender equality!
SRI LANKA Starting off from nothing after the civil war in Sri Lanka, this cooperative has proved that together is the answer. Today they are 62 entrepreneurs supporting each other in various businesses.
Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka were severely affected by the civil conflict that lasted for nearly three decades that ended in 2009. The women and men in the area have gone through a lot of terrible experiences with the war by losing their livelihoods, infrastructure, housing and habitat and losing their loved ones as well.
Karadipooval Ilamkathir Cooperative Development Society was established with 32 members including 20 women and 12 men, with the aim to to develop their socio-economic conditions through social mobilization and with income generation activities.
Preparing traditional food and selling to the labourers was their first step as a business. Now there are 62 members where a few women and men are engaged in traditional food making, whilst the others are involved in home gardening, retail shop, goat rearing, backyard poultry, tailoring, coconut shell/seashell ornamental production.
The women and men in the cooperative wanted to enhance their livelihood and as well as the local development of their village. The setting of the village is far from the town with limited access to preschool, quality drinking water, electricity supply and the government support services. With their utmost effort and courageous integrity they developed their cooperative increasing the number of members and having a food stall in the Batticaloa town by the year 2013. These marginalized members were able to capacitate themselves to gain what they want and their rights.
Starting from nothing, due to long-lasting civil war, this cooperative has proved that together is the answer to poverty.
PALESTINE With its continuous work and ambitions, Bezzaria Cooperative plays an important role in enhancing the economic and social situation of women in Palestine.
The women established the cooperative at a time where Palestine faced a very bad economic situation, in order to enhance the economic and social situation for them.
First the cooperative started a supermarket in the aim of facilitating the shopping of basic family requirements by the women and mothers. At that time women used to go outside the village for shopping which cost them transportation, more effort and time. The cooperative developed yearly by increasing the number of its members and by establishing additional services and businesses.
The cooperative owns and operates a supermarket that sells the grocery, clothes and family requirements, that employs 6 women. Some of the products are made by the members of the cooperative, e.g processed food; thyme, milk products, and embroidery. They also offer saving and lending schemes for women, leads a beekeeping project and provides a wedding hall for rent.
They are also active in supporting women in the local community, offering donations for school students. Their saving and lending scheme provides basic financial services for the women members. It enabled them to take loans to be able to meet some costs of education (to pay the university fees), contribute to costs of marriage, medical treatment and establish small income generating projects.
Bezzaria Cooperative, with its 110 members at the moment, plays an important role in enhancing the economic and social situation of women in Palestine.