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The co-operative as institution for human development: the case study of COPPALJ, a primary co-operative in Brazil Sara Vicari Research Associate - Co-operative.

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Presentation on theme: "The co-operative as institution for human development: the case study of COPPALJ, a primary co-operative in Brazil Sara Vicari Research Associate - Co-operative."— Presentation transcript:

1 The co-operative as institution for human development: the case study of COPPALJ, a primary co-operative in Brazil Sara Vicari Research Associate - Co-operative College Panel Re-thinking Co-operatives London, 3 November 2012 – DSA Conference

2 A co-operative is... VALUES self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, solidarity, honesty, openness, social responsibility, caring for others. PRINCIPLES 1.Voluntary and Open Membership 2.Democratic Member Control 3.Member Economic Participation 4.Autonomy and Independence 5.Education, Training and Information 6.Co-operation among Co-operatives 7.Concern for Community meet common needs aspirations jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise An autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise (ICA, 1995)

3 Criticisms from past experience Failure of co-operatives in developing countries (Lele, 1981; Attwood and Baviskar, 1989; Holmén, 1990) : incapacity in bringing structural change and benefiting the poor; affected by bad management; exhausted by government interference. But in developing countries, co-operatives, as autonomous member-owned businesses, have rarely been tried (Birchall, 2004)

4 Human Development and Capability Approach Human development Economic development GDP Process of expanding real freedoms that people enjoy (Sen, 1999) Capabilities: various combinations of beings and doings, reflecting persons freedom to choose from possible livings (Sen, 1992) Agency: what a person is free to do and achieve in pursuit of whatever goals or values he or she regards as important (Sen, 1985) Framework to conceptualise, measure and evaluate poverty and well- being as well as the institutions and policies that affect them (Robeyns and Crocker, 2009)

5 The co-operative advantage ENTREPRENEURIAL FEATURE Local development actors – wealth distribution Income- related capabilities: (e.g. nutrition, housing, etc.) PARTICIPATORY FEATURE Empowerment from economic democracy to other life domains Gender relations and household decision- making (Burchi and Vicari, 2012)

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7 The case study of COPPALJ Aimed at verifying through empirical assessment whether participation in a primary genuine co- operative, located in a low human development area, might improve member agency and well-being Lago do Junco, HDI: (Angola, 143°) Maranhão HDI: 0.68 Brazil HDI: Controversial history of co-operatives

8 COPPALJ as a genuine co-operative Founded in 1992, as a result of a common action against monopsonistic power of landowners Open door; 40.4% of members has been in charge of decision-making positions (max for 4 years – turnover) Governance: 2 General Assembly per year; on average 4 meetings per month in every community

9 MethodologyQUALITATIVE QUANTITATIVE Survey: 63 members – 84 non-members Questionnaire based also on OPHI work on missing dimensions Propensity Score Matching (Rosenbaum and Rubin, 1983) It corrects the estimation of treatment effects checking for the existence of other factors which could influence participation Card game 4 groups 14 cards out of 30

10 Findings/1 – economic freedom Increased Babaçu value and member purchase power Price 50% higher than average price of dealers Members can buy goods at 20% less Yearly refund

11 Findings/ 2 – nutrition/shelter *p-value<0.1; **p-value<0.05; ***p-value<0.01

12 Findings/ 3 - Gender Power relations at home Balanced gender representation in the Board (42% women, 58% men) 2 women presidents co-operative members: higher capability to participate in decision- making and share decisions with their partner than people in the control group (domains: job tasks; health; HH expenditures) (Burchi and Vicari, 2012)

13 Findings/ 4 - Agency 'Babaçu Livre' law legally provided small farmers with free access to Babaçu palms, even if located on landowner property; Woman co-operator elected as Municipality councellor

14 Findings/ 5 - Education Adult and youth education Intergenerational transfer of values Learning by doing

15 Conversion factors Personal CF: Education Environmental CF: Own truck and community- based system of production collection Social CF: strong bonding and bridging social capital; supportive government; inclusion in ethical domestic and international value chains.

16 Conclusion Co-operative uniqueness relies on its double entrepreneurial and participatory nature, thus expanding member agency and capabilities Further empirical studies to learn more about agency and well-being dimensions affected by co-operative membership and relevant conversion factors Insights for policymakers to foster the conducive environment


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