For cooperatives struggling with member commitment and loyalty
Member commitment is an important ingredient for the formation and existence of cooperatives. A member of a cooperative is committed when (s)he feels united and identifies oneself with the cooperative. A committed member accepts and supports the cooperative’s strategy, is prepared to deliver extra efforts for the cooperative, is prepared to participate in the decision-making process, has a desire to remain a member of the cooperative and accepts certain decisions due to advantages in the long-term.
Unfortunately, member commitment is not something self-evident. Cooperatives all over the world struggle with issues related to maintaining and strengthening the commitment of their members. Member’s behaviour, such as not buying shares, side-selling and not participating in decision-making, decreases the business results of the cooperative.
In July the first pilot of the new Member Commitment Workshop took place at Bukonzo Organic Coffee Cooperative Union in Rwenzori Region Western Uganda.
Bukonzo is a cooperative union with 12 cooperatives underneath it with 3,000 farmers. They are Fairtrade Organic Certified for washed Arabicas grown on the soils of Mt. Rwenzori. These members sell their high value crop to middlemen where it does not attract any premiums like it would if sold through their cooperative.
The attendees of the workshop were 6 Board members, 6 lead farmers from primary cooperatives and 6 members from the management team. The workshop was given by business advisors James Muhangi and Mikidadi Waziri, Marijke Flamman (member commitment specialist of the NCR) and Chiel Huijink, intern Learning & Development at Agriterra.
The workshop aimed to address the issue of side selling by critically walking with the participants through the practical journey of the drivers on member commitment (Affective, Calculative, Normative, Imperative, Reputation and Reliance).
From the interaction of 3 days with farmers, participants developed a SMART Action Plan for the next year on their own. It was great to see the actions and commitment to address this challenge.