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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Rawandan Ag Co-op Corporiz-Ntende

The story of COPRORIZ-Ntende started in 2003 as an association and then in 2005 as a cooperative. Today it includes 3,761 members, 2,450 men and 1,311 women. The first President, James Karangwa, and the managing director, Jean de Dieu Sinzamuhara, are the key leaders and protagonists, together with the members of the cooperative who have achieved success over its 15 years of existence.

It all started with a government intervention that transformed the Ntende territories in 2003. Wide expanses of land were used at the time by local populations to produce not even enough for home consumption. At that time, as told  women members particularly told us during one of the FGDs we carried out, household diet was mainly based on sweet potatoes. There was deep poverty and famine. Government intervention consisted mainly in building a dam and creating a marshland and farmers were encouraged to come together and cultivate that land.

James was there when all this happened. It was not easy at the beginning, as he explained to us. There was high motivation among farmers to improve their wellbeing, but low capacities at both production and managerial levels. In addition, they did not even speak to each other because of the mistrust left by the genocide. However, the fact of being formally together attracted training provided by external players.

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