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Voices from the Ground: South African Cooperatives
Voices from the Ground: 
South African Cooperatives

Editors Note: The National Cooperative Association of South Africa (NCASA) has been quite busy in the past years getting co-ops off the ground and supporting their development. Some examples are provided in this report from a 1999 NCASA conference, in which co-op members “had a chance to practice and improve their writing skills,” as well as share experiences. Each brief story bears the name of its co-op author; they are taken from the December, 1999 issue of NCASA NEWS, the Association´s newsletter, which was provided to us by Derrick Naidoo, an organizer for NCASA and a member of the International Instituite for Self-Management.


(by Lorraine Bareki)

Fifteen trained welders and boiler makers established the Marshall Works Cooperative Enterprise in 1999. This cooperative is based in Mafikeng and specializes in burglar guards, steel windows, gates, etc. Women and youth make up the membership, and women occupy most of the top management positions.


(by Sibusiso Mngadi)

Simunye Handcraft Co-operative Ltd. of Bothas Hill, in KwaZulu Natal, is now exporting beadwork to Japan. The cooperative sent five thousand armbands and bracelets to Tokyo, which hosted the Asia-Pacific economic summit in February, 2000. This order was placed by the Director of the African Museum in Tokyo, who saw the beadwork while visiting South Africa.
This women´s co-op was formed in 1992 with 15 members and now has more than 200. Members have exhibited their work in the USA, Germany, and Spain. They are also the main suppliers of beadwork to curio shops in Botha´s Hill. Simunye has empowered its members both socially and economically. The chairperson, Mrs. Angel Hlongwane says, “We will now be able to finish the educare centre we are building.”


(by Vuyeka Madona)

The Financial Services Co-operatives (FSC) was established in the Eastern Cape to support the efforts of community members to help themselves. The FSC is owned and run by its two hundred members, who have been strengthened by training sponsored by NCASA and DGRV [the German Co-operative Association].


(by Lucy Phalanndwa)

A group of women in the Northern province have come together to form a pottery co-operative to supply the tourist market. Eskom (a public utilty) has provided electricity installations and some equipment, while the Department of Agriculture helped the women register with the Registrar of Cooperatives. Funding has been received from the Department of Trade and Industry.


(by Ntombi Yende)

Local poultry farmers and the community poultry project formed this cooperative in Molopo in the North West Province. The co-op now has a hundred and two members. It seeks markets, arranges training, and creates jobs for its members. The Department of Agriculture has funded some of its cooperative projects.


(by Pumla Mbulawa)

The Masithembe Fisheries Co-operative was started in June, 1999. The co-op sells fish and chips, vet koek, and soft drinks. It has eleven members and is situated in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. This area has eighteen registered cooperatives engaged in diverse activities. The Khayelitsha Co-operative was formed with five board members, who are in the process of leasing land from the City Council so that all the co-ops will be able to operate from a single venue.


(by Eva Mnisi)

The Yinulelenfro Young Woman´s Co-operative was formed in October, 1999; it started with fifteen members and has now grown to forty five. Unemployed women, single parents, and other young women in the community are target members. Presently the co-operative sews, and provides two schools with uniforms. They have also organized and maintain a vegetable garden.

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