News from the Regions

*********NEWS FROM THE REGIONS*******

**EUROPE**

Progress Report on ICA European Region

ICA's recently elected European Council met for the first time in
Strasbourg, France on 31 March. There was full participation which enabled
a thorough discussion of the following issues:

The work programme of ICA Europe, the implementation of the project
approved by DG XXIII of the European Commission for funding selected
activities, the preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding to be signed
between ICA Europe and CCACC (the Coordinating Committee of the sectoral
associations in Brussels), the revision of the Rules for ICA Europe, the
application to the Council of Europe for Consultative Status, the agreement
with Co-op Network as well as the European contribution to the Centennial
Congress.

At the invitation of Centrosoyuz of  Russia the next meeting will be held
on 11 July in St. Petersburg. It will be followed by a three-day Seminar,
one on Corporate Governance and Management Control Systems and the other,
on 12-13 July - in co-operation with Plunkett Foundation - on Co-operative
Finance and Co-operative Legislation.


Beijing to Host Network Seminar

The far-reaching changes in the Chinese economy in recent years have had an
impact on the co-operatives which are now free from State control and
competing on the open market.

The situation in China is of interest for co-operative organisations
worldwide. The Co-op Network for Development in East and Central Europe and
the All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives are,
therefore, organising a seminar and study tour in Beijing from 6-10
November, 1995 to which all members of ICA are welcome to attend for a
minimal fee which covers the organisational costs only.

For further details please contact Mats Anhlund in Geneva. Telephone (41
22) 929 88 29 or Fax: (41 22) 798 41 22.


Informal Women's Network

ICA Women's Committee has decided to establish an informal network. in
Europe to "address problems of discrimination through an exchange of
information, prevent feelings of isolation by giving mutual support, and
influence decision making to enable the progress of women."

Due to lack of resources it was not possible to create a formal European
Regional Women's Committee, however the Committee believes that an informal
'network' will prove to be a inexpensive and effective solution in the
exchange of ideas for the advancement of women.

Among the suggestions for raising the status of women were the circulation
of a mailing list, the publication of a newsletter, electronic
communications via the Internet, and more coverage of Women's issues in ICA
publications and members' magazines.

It was also suggested that a representative from each organisation could
communicate information to 'networkers' in their own region to keep mailing
costs down.

Some recent efforts include a Gender Issues Report in the current ICA
Review, the formation of a small task force consisting of Moira Lees, Mary
Treacy, and Raija Itkonen (ICA Board member) to prepare reports for the
Centennial Congress 1995,  and the future ICA Women's Committee seminar
which promises to include subjects such as: "training and re-training in
management skills relevant to a changing economic scenario, practices which
discriminate against women, childcare provision and maternity leave,
environmental protection, consumer rights, and laws and their effect on
women's rights."


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**THE AMERICAS**

New Regional Structure Under Way

Following the November 1994 decision of the ICA's Regional Assembly for the
Americas to establish a Consultative Committee to maintain more regular
contact with co-operatives in the continent, the Committee held its first
meeting in San Jos=E9, Costa Rica, on  20-21 March.

The Committee, chaired by ICA Vice-President Roberto Rodrigues, decided
that the Regional Office for Central America and the Caribbean (ROCAC)
should henceforth be known as the Regional Office for the Americas (ROAM)
in light of its new continental mandate, and that it should continue to be
based in San Jose.

It was agreed that the Regional Council, which had supported the work of
ROCAC since its establishment in 1990, should be thanked for its valuable
work, and disbanded.  If specific sub-regional activities are required in
the future, they should be carried out through ICA Project Offices, such as
the current Project Office in Buenos Aires for the countries of the
Southern Cone.

The Committee reviewed, revised, and approved the Regional Office's
workplan for 1995, which is based on the three priorities of promoting
business opportunities for co-operatives, developing human resources, and
promoting the co-operative principles.

The major regional event for 1995 will be the ICA Regional Conference on
Strategic Alliances and Joint Ventures, scheduled for 6-8 December in
Miami.  More than 600 co-operative leaders are expected to participate in
the sessions designed to generate co-operative business and trade
opportunities.  Conference sponsors include the World Bank, Multilateral
Investment Guarantee Agency, Inter-American Development Bank, Developpement
International Desjardins, and Swedish Co-operative Centre.

Further information is available from Juan Diego Pacheco, ICA Regional
Director for the Americas, fax (506-231 5842).

**Asia and the Pacific**

Supporting Tanzania's Business Women

by IPS Correspondent in Dar-es-Salaam
Paul Chintowa

Women in Tanzania, as in the rest of Africa, are the backbone of rural
communities. They work the fields and maintain the home - and get scant
reward.
Now a scheme is attempting to help them plough some of the little money
they have saved into income-generating projects.

The idea is simple - to support credit schemes among women cooperative members.

Women, who make up more than half of the country's population of 28 million
people, find the first hurdle to setting up a business is access to credit.

Getting a loan from a commercial bank is a nightmare of form-filling and
intrusive questioning.

"One has to have collateral before he or she gets a loan," explains Laura
Maro, a widow and mother of three children benefiting from a programme
tailored by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

Maro is among 30,000 women in Tanzania's northern region of Kilimanjaro who
are being helped by the ICA to set up savings and credit associations to
raise capital for their businesses.

The ICA offers training in book-keeping and savings and credit management
for women in cooperative development, the ICA's priority area.

Maro and her 50 colleagues contributed a total of 200,000 shillings (about
400 dollars) two years ago to form the 'Masasa' women's credit association.

"The money we contributed acted as shares. Each member is allowed to borrow
not more than half of what she has contributed," she adds.

"I had to repay the loan with an interest rate of only two percent and I am
very happy that I have repaid my loan," says Maro, now a tailor in Moshi, a
town on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain.

Commercial banks, unlike the savings and credit associations, charge
interest rates of up to 30 percent on their loans, far too much for
rural-based customers.

"Women can work and improve their lives if they are helped on how to go
about setting up the associations," says the ICA's project manager for
East, Central and Southern Africa, Labourn Minishi.

"Our aim is to give women an orientation so that they can run their work
efficiently without problems. We visit them regularly to see their
performance," he adds.

The ICA is a non-profit making organisation founded in 1895 with the aim of
uniting, representing and serving co-operatives in the world.

The regional work of ICA includes  research and  planning and the regional
offices and project offices act as consultants in co-operative development
in the different regions.

Other credit associations helped by the ICA in Tanzania are among
subsistence coffee and maize growers who use their loans to buy fertiliser,
pesticides and to make improvements to their farms.

Coffee is a leading export crop for Tanzania and earns the country some 100
million dollars each year.

Agriculture remains Tanzania's main economic activity, contributing 50
percent of GDP and representing 70 percent of the country's hard currency
earnings.

Growing unemployment is a serious headache for the authorities. Job
creation in the formal sector has dwindled from 30,000 a year in the 1970s
to a current low of 9,000.

On-going donor-backed economic reforms have resulted in 50,000 public
service workers being laid off in the past few years as the government
attempts to cut its spending.In addition, the army of unemployed is
increasing with 600,000 school drop-outs annually who join the jobless
queue.

A labour force survey conducted in 1991 showed that nearly 2.4 million
Tanzanians are engaged in the informal sector. This represents about 22
percent of the total employed.

The majority of informal sector workers are based in rural areas engaged in
activities such as fishing, quarrying and charcoal making. In the towns
they are artisans. Their numbers are almost certainly now far more than the
four-year-old labour survey first revealed.

The government has ignored the importance of developing this part of the
economy. Tanzania had run a heavily state-regulated system which had
virtually guaranteed employment in the public sector until a U-turn in the
late 1980s provoked by an economy on the verge of collapse.

The ICA credit scheme is attempting to provide support to small-scale
businesses struggling to get a foot-hold in the market.