The importance of formalizing an Union of Cooperatives

04-12-2014 In 2011 Agriterra visited Veronica Maria Betanco Vargaz, a female farmer in Nicaragua. She lives in the Chinandega region and is member of the cooperative COAMIS RL. In October 2014, three years later, we visit this women only cooperative again and are suprised by the changes.

This story is about the cooperative three years ago. Now we were surprised to find the women having other new equipment at another place, producing the same. What had happened? In 2011 COAMIS RL was part of a so called ‘Union’ of five cooperatives, which was in the phase to be formalized and received the machines and trainings through a local NGO, Funproteca.

A development center was used by the Union for trainings on cattle raising and promotion of grass-roots entrepreneurship. COAMIS RL also received advisory services through CEGE (Centro de gestión empresarial) Chinandega. The women worked for two years in the ‘Union’ and received some income through the sales. But not everything was given back to them, because a part was also needed for the capitalization of the Union and work capital.


An internal governance problem started, this resulted in the breaking up of the Union and COAMIS RL at the end had to re-start their business at another place. The women cooperative in 2011 joined the Union because to receive a donation, without thinking too much about the importance of formalizing the ‘Union’. The women told Agriterra that they have learned a lot from this experience and because the members of COAMIS already received a lot of advisory services they were capable to re-start their business on their own. 

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