Last week, Agriterra worked with the Hue Cooperative Alliance (HCA) in Vietnam on a Guideline to stimulate member-based dialogues. Wendy Vorstenbosch, communication expert at NCR - the Dutch Cooperative Council - joined the Agriterra team that consisted of Nguyen Ba Cuong, Le Thi Thu Hien (business advisors) and Susanne Coolen (corporate communication). HCA forms a bridge between the Vietnamese government and the cooperatives in the Hue region and wants to change its focus from top down government-based to bottom-up member-based. This creates stronger cooperatives and more continuity. Improving the dialogue leads to more solidarity and member-backed decision making.
To fully understand the needs of its members, interviews with cooperatives were conducted and an interactive ‘speed date’ session between them and with the client was organised. This very open way of communicating is new in the Socialist Republic Vietnam. The result was an informal dialogue and a list of members’ priority topics for HCA. Topics resemble the needs of the ‘new model’ Vietnamese cooperative: cooperatives want business and synergies between members and market linkages with buyers. Member-based dialogues, tailored member services from HCA and member-to-member knowhow sharing to inspire and learn, creates involved and loyal members and cooperatives who really want to increase their business. The assignment helps to facilitate peer-to-peer learnings among cooperatives and member-based decision making of HCA. The Vietnamese government assists cooperatives through HCA where needed with new legislation and loans. This according to the long-term Vietnam Cooperative Masterplan that stimulates cooperative business.
The practical dialogue structure Guideline is going to be the start of an interesting new phase for HCA and perhaps also for other provincial alliances in the country who are a client of Agriterra. New communication methods will be used. The tool-matrix will stimulate vision and initiatives within cooperatives. But as communication is influenced by culture, it needs creativity and flexibility of the implementers (HCA and the cooperatives). Change takes time, but it should start today. A seed has been planted.