Ghanaians who live in rural communities mostly rely on small-scale farming for their survival. This is an area where we can make the biggest impact. Farming is a business, and helping small holders to move from subsistence to surplus, long-term sustainable farm businesses are created. Dedicated to empowering rural Africans to achieve economic independence, we focus on bootstrapping self-sustaining endeavors at the local level.
We offer training to help people meet not only local consumption needs but to generate cash crops and go-to-market strategies that produce that key ingredient of sustainability – profits. We work with local staff and partners to improve agricultural productivity, support business development and enable Ghana’s rural poor to produce more food and earn a sustainable living. We assist producers to organize into farmer co-operatives owned and controlled by the people who use its services. They finance and operate the cooperative for their mutual benefit. By working together, members reach an objective that would be unattainable if acted alone.
In many respects cooperatives resemble other businesses. They have similar physical facilities, perform similar functions, and must follow sound business practices. Members elect a board of directors to represent their interests. The board sets policy and hires a manager to run the cooperative’s day-to-day business affairs. Even though cooperatives are similar to many other businesses, they are distinctively different. Cooperatives supported by the Self-help Ghana Initiative are governed by several principles that define or identify their distinctive characteristics:
Voluntary and Open Membership – Open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control – Controlled and managed by members. Equal participation on a ‘one person one vote basis’. Participation not dependent on: financial status, extent of membership interest, nor race, gender, cultural or social background or any other discriminating criterion.
Member Economic Participation – Primary aim of the co-operative is to meet members’ needs. Economic needs – aim to maximize return for individual members rather than make profits for the co-operative itself. Equitable participation in economic returns for all members in the co-operative.
Autonomy and Independence – Autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by members.
Education, Training and Information – Provide education and training for members, representatives and employees. Play an important role in raising community awareness of co-operative.
Co-operation amongst Co-operatives – Co-operation with local, regional, national and international co-operatives.
Concern for Community – Work for sustainable community development.