In May-June 2011, Dr. Julie Heifetz volunteered her time to provide training and guidance to a women’s cooperative in Mali, as part of Winrock’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program. She came to Mali to provide inspiration, and she ended up leaving inspired herself. Reflecting on her experience, Julie offers the following thoughts:
“Faso Yirwa Ton Women’s Cooperative was created in 2005 but remained a fledgling, loosely-organized group of 52 poor, non-literate women in Banamba, Mali who were struggling to deal with poverty in their communities.
In 2011, with the support and direction of Mali’s Regional Directorate of Animal Production and Industry of Koulikoro, the Faso Yiriwa Ton (“Home Welfare”) Cooperative decided to do something about their condition and sought Winrock’s Farmer-to-Farmer program’s technical assistance. The Cooperative’s common objective is to strengthen the cooperative’s organization and management capacities in order to become a viable, self-sustaining, legal cooperative capable of income generation and engagement in the marketplace. Since its inception, the cooperative lacked training; didn’t fully understand the rationale, benefits and value of a cooperative; and knew little about board roles and responsibilities or how to run a business. In response to the Cooperative’s request to Winrock, I was asked to provide assistance and conduct a three-week cooperative capacity-building training in Banamba. (more…)