The Rwanda Knits Cooperative Union Formation Committee (CUFC) held its inaugural meeting last week. They gathered in order to meet, greet, and agree to represent their respective primary cooperatives in a process that promises to herald something big for knitters in Rwanda.
Committee members represent three primary knitting cooperatives in Gasabo District. Caritas and Immaculée are from Hosiana, Protegène and Domitile are from Village of Hope, and Daphrose and Rose are from Mpore Mama. They discussed how a cooperative union (CU)--a sort of umbrella cooperative that would be responsible for marketing, importation of raw materials, and management--would benefit their groups both in the abstract and concretely. Forming a CU could enable cooperatives to apply for import tax exemptions on yarn, expand their production capacity, develop new market linkages, and construct a knitting center to serve as a resource to knitters all over Rwanda. A CU would also come with its fair share of challenges, which members planned to address by applying lessons learned from previous attempts to share orders. The energy was tangible at the meeting's conclusion.
Today marked the second CUFC meeting, at which the District Cooperative Officer (the local authority responsible for cooperative development) of Gasabo reviewed the benefits and challenges of CUs and the formalities of the formation and legal registration process. He will facilitate the group's process step by step, certainly a wonderful partner in this latest entrepreneurial adventure.