Benin: Federation des Cooperatives de production artisanale...(1996)

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                        July, 1996

        (Source: INFO-COOP, Issue No.9, July, 1996, p.9-10)


          Federation des Cooperatives de production
       artisanale, industrielle et de services du Benin
                       Bernard SOVI-GUIDI

On the 29th and 30th of September 1995, 56 co-operatives
representing 28 co-operatives and unions from the six
departments of the republic of Benin set up the Federation of
the Federation of Industrial, Artisanal and Service Producers
Co-operatives of Benin (FECOPAS Benin).

How can one account for the late emergence of this Apex
organisation in country where the origin of the co-operative
movement dates back to the year 1910? 

What services can this Federation provide its affiliated
co-operatives and unions with ?
Since the official accession to independence of our country,
most forms of co-operative organisations experimented have met
with failure. Strategies implemented up to recently have
emphasised the active involvement of the government in the
management of co-operative organisations. The main objective,
as it seems, was not to create favourable conditions for the
development of co-operative entrepreneurship.

Today, the co-operative landscape of Benin has been positively
affected by the employment crisis the country has been facing
for a decade. Many co-operative organisations have emerged on
the initiative of the laid off staff from public and semi
public companies, jobless graduates, early retired and young
artisans at the end of their apprenticeship. The disengagement
of the state from development actions has therefore created a
conducive environment for the development of co-operatives.

Thus, at the request of several cooperatives, a diagnostic
study on the emergence of co-operatives operating in the areas
of craft industry, small and medium scale industries and
services has been fully sponsored and carried out by ISPEC
(Pan African Higher Institute of Co-operative Economy). This
study confirmed, among other things, the need to set up a
federation of industrial, artisanal and service producers
co-operatives in Benin. The International Co-operative
Alliance/Regional Office for West Africa (ICA/ROWA), the
Ministry in charge of co-operative affairs of Benin and the
International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers Co-operatives (CICOPA) provided their moral
and financial support for the emergence of FECOPAS Benin.

The new Federation has the double advantage of filling the gap
created by the disengagement of the state and of providing an
institutional consultation, exchange and mutual help framework
for the member co-operatives.

-    It is within this ideal organisation that the affiliated
     co-operatives now reflect on their common problems, the
     most acute of which are as follows:
-    Problems of organisation and management of co-operatives,
-    Weakness of the economic and financial capacities of
     co-operative societies, 
-    Lack of policy on co-operative education, of technical
     training to make co-operatives more businesslike, 
-    The small size of the supply and distribution markets,

The basic mission of FECOPAS Benin is to promote the
co-operative movement in the sectors concerned. The Federation
must in particular: 

*    assist its members in working out appropriate solutions
     to the organisational and management problems they meet;
*    defend the interests of the affiliated organisations it
     represents on the national and international level;

*    promote the professionalisation of the sectors through
     the provision of education and training programs to
*    develop inter-co-operation and promote dynamic
     partnership networks;

To achieve this mission, FECOPAS Benin has had to define
precise actions ranked according to priorities set by the
General Constituent Assembly. As a matter of fact, the
Management Committee has been charged by the executive body of
the Federation with:

1.   restructuring the network;

2.   training the members of the affiliated co-operatives and
     unions of co-operatives;

3.   assisting in the search of funds for members; 

4.   strengthening of inter-co-operation;

5.   supporting the creation of new co-operative societies; 

6.   ensuring follow up/ evaluation; 

7.   setting up data banks on grassroots organisations and
     their unions, their activities and on the possibilities
     of partnership that they can make use of at the national
     and international level;

8.   setting up of a support and development fund for
     co-operative entrepreneurship.

All these activities constitute today the priorities around
which FECOPAS Benin has formulated a work program (for 1996
99) that it wishes to share with all the development partners.

Name:                    Federation des Cooperatives de
                         Production Artisanale, Industrielle
                         et de services du Benin  
Acronym:                 FECOPAS-BENIN  
Address:                 BP 1198 BENIN  
Telephone:               (229) 33-10-13 
Fax:                     (229) 33-15-06 
Operational Zone:        Territoire national 
Main Activities:         Artisanal, Industry, Services 
Date of Creation:        29 & 30 September,1995   
Primary Co-ops:          28   
Chairman of the 
Management Committee:    Bernard SOVI-GUIDI