The Role of Cooperatives
The role of cooperatives in contributing to social inclusion and poverty eradication was highlighted by the United Nations at the Rio +20 conference on Sustainable Development.
Over the years, at Township, we have witnessed how women-owned cooperatives are focused on serving the communities in which they operate by creating local economic activity, by operating responsible manufacturing processes and by producing eco-friendly products.
Cooperatives around the world face many challenges. According to the ILO - International Labour Organization, some challenges are the restrictive or absence of laws and regulations in some countries, a large miss conception of the cooperatives business model among organisations, trade unions as well as research institutions and the real challenges of engaging with large, international customers.
Since 1997, at Township®, we have been able to assist the cooperatives which we work with in addressing some of these shortcomings.
- we assist cooperatives in getting them registered as official companies. This enables them to get external funding and to engage in bidding for government or corporate business.
- we relentlessly promote our Fair Trade ethos in convincing retail buyers, international associations, corporate communications officials to look at the social impact of their purchasing decisions.
- we constantly provide on the job training, focusing on the necessity to constantly strive for the best quality, sharing best business practices, making sure a strong level of professionalism is a the heart of everything we do, therefore closing the business education gap faced by many cooperatives members.
But what we are probably the most proud of, is having developed a strong sense of belonging to a real network, strong because we all work together. Strong when it is time to work extra hours to meet a challenging deadline but also strong when facing adversity as we do these days. It works!
And this is how we have managed to deliver more than a million bags to retailer Pick n Pay. And this is how we are able to export more than 60% of our production to conference organisers in Europe, Asia or the USA.
20 years later, we are ready to open the next chapter of our adventure! Together with the women of Manenberg and Khayelitsha.