Cooperatives are when citizens with a common aim like achieving economic goals, working together having equal rights of ownership in business, and are independent in decision making.
The government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Trade and Industry recently emphasized and advised nationals about the benefits of working within cooperatives. It has encouraged people to form cooperatives so as to benefit from their works.
In an effort by government to ensure that cooperatives carry on in a beneficial direction for the people of Rwanda, Rwanda Cooperatives Agency was established in 2005.
According to the Director General of Rwanda Cooperative Agency, Demino Mugabo, the Agency is meant to register, supervise as well as monitor cooperative works, to effect implementation and good performance administratively and in other feilds.
Like in any other system of operation, success or failure depends on many factors which may among others include inapplicable systems in a specific economy or other related factors.
Mugabo says the public should rest assured of the agency’s effectiveness due to the measures put in place on cooperative administration.
Joan Karanja is the Regional Director of Cooperation for fair trade in Africa (Cofta), a Kenyan based organization operating in partnership with Shared Interest Foundation based in the UK, with the aim of improving quality output for cooperatives mainly in art craft business. She said that alongside administrative strategies, improving the quality of work that cooperatives are engaged in is equally important.
“Maintaining quality and innovations are very important steps that will among others help cooperatives perform better.”
She explained that producing the same style products eventually looses market; therefore modernizing output to fit modern standards is perfect.
“When the same basket style is produced from 2005 to today, they will loose market. This will affect the performance of the cooperative,” noted Karanja.
She said that, “one of the ways through which cooperatives can improve on the quality of work they engage in is by training people in business skills to train members of these cooperatives.”
That is the reason behind the partnership that has so far produced 17 trainers, who have already been awarded with certificates in business skills so that they can train others, Karanja added.
She said that these people have started training cooperatives on how to handle business, improve on the quality of products.
One of the trainers, Sereine Nterinanziza, said although the training focused at the handicrafts sector, it comprised of a detailed study which addresses a general business view.
“I have benefited from the training in many ways. I acquired skills in marketing of products, book keeping, how to create a clear vision and value of a business among others,” Nterinanziza.
A graduate as well as a trainer in business skills added that she is now able to pass on the skills to other people at any stage in business.
“I am in position to train others thus about business plans , organization structure, production planning which includes stock control, quality assurance and many other business techniques , depending on the type and level at which one operates his business,” she explained.
Andrea Wilkinson, the Foundation Manager of Shared Interest Foundation noted that cooperatives have a future in Rwanda saying that they are on the right track.
The project that started in June 2008 is aimed at training trainers in improving production techniques and also provides effective business and financial skills training to ensure effectiveness and profitable work is to run for three years.