3.1.1 Resilience and constraints in the case of MZCPCU

Here is my table for MZCPCU.

MZCPCU Demonstration of resilience Constraints on resilience

Central management team well qualified with experience of international organisations

Loyal membership based on good organisation and services to members, as well as good understanding of values and principles

Inclusion of women members and participation

Low literacy levels

Difficulties in attracting good managers to remote areas

Extreme poverty


Donor dependency

Experiencing effects of climate change

Collective skills

Provision of capacity building, training and coaching

Good organisational structures that enable good governance within the co-operatives and union, divisions of labour, skills to be built, services to be provided

Improvements in use of technologies and agricultural practices

Low managerial capacity at co-operative level

Access to international organisations and buyers

Access to Fair Trade markets

Some international organisations (e.g. Twin Trading) have helped to build farming practices and promoted women’s inclusion

Poor road networks

Unreliable telecomms.

Challenges of meeting Fair Trade standards

Reliance on donor support


Process and product upgrading: changes in technologies that improve quantity and quality of coffee beans

Chain upgrading: engagement in new value chains (tourist industry) through the guest house and coffee shop

‘Social innovation’: increasing engagement of women in production and co-operative participation

Role of government Good links with government ministries, partly as a result of donor links

Were you able to identify the different types of innovation?

You will have noticed in my table that I also used the concept of ‘social’ innovation, put in inverted commas as I haven’t mentioned it so far.

The reason is that I was trying to think about why women’s inclusion was categorised as an innovation in the case study (rather than, say, a point for a socially just and inclusive membership). I concluded that it might be seen as an innovation in the context where women might not normally be included and where women are well-placed to use the new technologies and farming practices. Inclusion is directly beneficial to women both in market terms and in terms of their social position within the co-operative.

This process could perhaps be called ‘social’ innovation in the terms that two writers on co-operatives and social enterprises (Borzaga and Bodini, 2012) conceptualise it:

  • The innovation addresses issues that might not be dealt with through the market.
  • The innovation is more about a way of organising the co-operative and the production of coffee.
  • It also has the potential to be scaled up (and therefore have wider social benefit).

Would you agree or disagree?

In general terms, with respect to resilience, I would want to know more about the relationship with the international organisations and the buyers of the coffee. This relationship seems to be having positive effects, however I was wondering if there were any downsides.

I was also thinking that it would be hard for MZCPCU to address the illiteracy and management skills gap in the primary co-operatives; this is almost a national policy issue. Would you agree or do you think this is something the co-operative union could deal with?

3.1 Two cases studies

3.1.2 Resilience and constraints in the case of TMCU