University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Journal of Agricultural Cooperation

Title Can Cooperative Movements Be Successful in Traditional Societies?
The Case of Southern Senegal
Author(s) Curtis M. Jolly
Series Volume 6
Issue Date 1991
Abstract In spite of professional and political support for cooperatives in West Africa, their record of accomplishments is very spotty. Advocates of cooperatives have been blamed for not tailoring the movement to the needs, social practices, and orientations of traditional societies. In this paper, an attempt is made to show how indigenous groups can be organized to improve the coordination of traditional groups, local governments, financial institutions, and aid donors. Village cooperatives, called "Groupement Villageois," in southern Denegal were allowed to organize their own business affairs. Credit was provided to the cooperative group by the development agency. Cooperative activities were structured around cultural norms, village traditions, and production systems, rather than merely Rochdale principles. The village chief and elders were responsible for linkages and contacts with external entities. The whole village, and not just individual members, was responsible for credit, marketing, and distributions to cooperative equity were on the rise. Applications of this cooperative model were expanding rapidly throughout the region.

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