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The Malawian Co-operative Movement: Insights for Resilience

Alexander Borda-Rodriguez and Sara Vicari

February 2014

Abstract

Heavy government interference, lack or leadership and low levels of skills are some the factors that have for decades weakened and in some cases caused the failure of co-operatives in Africa. However, in the recent past, African co-operatives have experienced a remarkable renaissance. We examine whether these co-operatives are resilient forms of organisation, and if so, what are the key factors that are conducive to resilience. We examine the Malawian co-operative movement from which very little is known. We explore four of the biggest co-operative unions in the country. Our analysis is guided by a framework compounded by five key factors conducive to co-operative resilience. Our results suggest that women's inclusion, business income diversification, collective skills, and strategic partnerships with external agents are factors conducive to resilience. We also conclude that these factors need to be grounded on reflexive behaviour amongst leaders and co-operative members.

Read IKD Working Paper 69 - The Malawian Co-operative Movement.

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