Empowering Cooperatives for Sustainable Livelihoods & Poverty Reduction in ivory coast, Uganda & Rwanda (Coffee & Cocoa Industries) 

The Shared Interest Foundation (SIF), a UK-based charity, is partnering with COLEAD in an initiative aimed at enhancing the operational effectiveness and sustainability of cooperatives in Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, and Rwanda, which are currently receiving finance from their business arm, Shared Interest Society.

Shared Interest was established in 1990 and brings together a community of more than 12,000 people in the UK with the common goal of investing in a fairer world. They work hand in hand with communities where income opportunities may be limited and where businesses face increasing challenges. Shared Interest acts cooperatively, funding fair trade businesses in 45 countries. Most of these organisations support small-scale farmers who produce about a third of the world’s food but often struggle to feed their families.

The overall objective of the project is to support the development of cooperatives generating sustainable incomes to improve livelihoods and contribute to poverty reduction, focusing on empowering women and youth. SIF and COLEAD believe that strong, well-managed businesses in the agri-food sector play a decisive role in achieving sustainable development goals, particularly by creating employment opportunities and increasing the incomes of producers and workers, leading to improved livelihoods.

The specific objective of the project is to ultimately enhance the resilience and sustainability of 8 cooperatives located in Cote d’Ivoire (3), Uganda (2) and Rwanda (3) by strengthening capacities in commercial and agricultural skills, thus improving the quality and quantity of their products and increasing their resilience to climate change.

COLEAD’s role in the project involves providing technical assistance and training activities: (i) baseline diagnostic phase to identify existing gaps and weaknesses in the current governance and financial frameworks of each cooperative, (ii) training programme on cooperative governance and management, planning, and commercial/financial management (iii) and a general introduction and awareness-raising session on measures to increase resilience to climate change.

The partner cooperatives benefiting from this initiative are primarily active in the cocoa and coffee sectors, with some involved in shea and cashew industries.

In this project, as in other programmes such as FFM+, COLEAD provides technical assistance and training to help MSMEs and cooperatives in the agricultural sector access appropriate financing. This complements the technical assistance and training historically provided by COLEAD in terms of market access.

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