From the SPP’s stand at the 2016 SCAA Expo, Central de Cooperativas Agrarias de la Convención y Lares Ltda, a federation of cooperatives more well-known in Peru as COCLA, shared its experiences as a second-level cooperative with small producers’ organizations and buyers.
In a meeting with small producers, Guillermo Aguilera, producer, historic leader and current president of COCLA, explained how the cooperative that he is currently leading began to decline due to financial problems attributed to serious debts, fraud and problems in administration.
“Members of the cooperative were accustomed to having all the functions and decision-making concentrated in a single person, and when that person was no longer there, a new manager was contracted, and he was given the same power without any mechanisms for control. However, this new manager used the cooperative for his own benefit, stealing from the organization, carrying out fraud and leaving behind a huge debt. In order to continue to operate, the cooperative was forced to sell its properties and machinery, some members decided to leave the organizations, and many clients lost their trust in COCLA.”
Aguilera highlighted the importance of overseeing community processes, working on generational replacement by educating new leaders and developing members’ capacities, in order to strengthen organizations and the overall collective project.
“Maintaining structures for transparency and accountability is vital, together with preparing our young people and our members to be able to take the reins of the organization at any time.”
Guillermo Aguilar ended the conversation on an optimistic note:
“We would like to send a clear message to buyers that we currently have NO debts, we have managed to heal the cooperative, and now all we ask is that they buy our coffee and trust COCLA. We are beginning a new stage with great optimism and the backing of our members.”