During the week of September 23rd, we interviewed 15 women’s cooperatives in the Kafue area and spoke with 300+ farmers. The interviews were completely inspirational and gave us so much hope for the growth and potential of these women’s cooperatives. We saw them speak on a whim on a range of topics from creative business ideas or the ways in which they had collectively tackled problems. With each passing interview, we knew that our decision to choose just two would be incredibly difficult.
To each group, we asked a set of specific questions and, then, after the collective round of interviews, we assessed each group using 8 key criteria. At the end of the evaluation, there was a clear winner and that was the Chikoka Women’s Group.
While there were impressive anecdotes from each group, we’ll share a few stories from our interviews with the Chikoka Women’s Group:
- Most of the women’s cooperatives were diversified, meaning that they had multiple lines of agricultural and non-agricultural business. When we asked the Chikoka Women’s Group about their most profitable line of business, they said that it was definitely the sale of fresh milk. Though they lived in a rural area far from the main road and without ready water access, they were able to maintain a few healthy cows. They took whatever milk they produced and sold it. We’re eager to help them capitalize this line of business.
- Additionally, they had mentioned that they had 3 male members who were called upon to enforce rules and regulations. We were a little confused by this response so we probed a bit further. They had set up their cooperative such that the men would intervene as independent intermediaries in case there was confusion between two women members or if a member missed several meetings. It was interesting how they had maintained diplomacy with this “external board.”
- But, most importantly, we were impressed by their motivation, energy, and ability to work together. They truly seemed to support each other.
As you can see by this video, you can see that they are equally excited to work with us.
We’ll be working with them during the rainfed season and will be working with the Kafue Estates women’s group during the offseason. More to come on that group!