Success Stories for Democracy Building

Egypt: Water buffalo producers launch a new association
Established in 1997, the Agribusiness Linkages for Egypt (AgLink) project is designed to strengthen commercial ties between Egypt and the United States. The project provides technical assistance to Egyptian agribusinesses and promotes trade and investment through consulting and outreach activities. Overall, AgLink has served to substantially boost participant incomes.

Egypt-water buffaloTo facilitate the establishment of a new association for water buffalo producers, ACDI/VOCA sent Joseph Terrell, a consultant from Virginia with extensive experience in trade association development. Terrell, along with AgLink Executive Director Hussein Raafat and the AgLink staff, spent two days helping the new group form. The first day the participants organized the new Egyptian Buffalo and Veal Association, electing a temporary board of directors. The second day was dedicated to working with new board members on government registration processes.

The new group consists of 45 charter members who paid their membership dues by the end of the first day. Said Gebril, an AgLink client with an outstanding record of business success, was elected as the group’s chairman of the temporary board. The Egyptian Buffalo and Veal Association will be the 10th AgLink client livestock group to obtain government registration with ACDI/VOCA support. The success of this first water buffalo and veal association will ensure that Egyptians have increased access to water buffalo products. Being high in amino acids, water buffalo meat is important to the Egyptian diet, and the milk is excellent for processing into cheese.

Uganda: Cooperative development training supports rural electrification
NRECA International Ltd. began work in Uganda to help the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) connect more households in the countryside to electricity. When Uganda first started its Rural Electric Strategy and Plan in 2001, less than 1 percent of the country’s rural inhabitants had access to electricity. To speed up growth, the REA established two electric cooperatives in 2009 that have connected more than 2,000 members so far. While the REA is enthusiastic about this progress and has provided basic management training, it was clear that more detailed training was needed, so NRECA International Ltd. stepped in to provide assistance.

Uganda training sessionIn order to strengthen these two electric cooperatives and the overall rural electrification program, NRECA International enlisted two volunteers from U.S. co-ops to travel to Uganda and conduct training seminars on director and management responsibilities. Dennis Hill (CEO, North Dakota Association of RECs) and Garry Mbiad (CEO, Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Cooperative, Ohio) joined NRECA International staff member Bob Ellinger and consultant Kent Wick and spent the next two weeks in Uganda conducting several training sessions.

“Training is one of the most important elements in the formation of a successful rural electrification program,” said Ellinger after returning from the trip.  “From the REA staff to the local co-op director in the boardroom to the lineman on the pole, everyone involved in the project needs a strong orientation on cooperative development and business operations combined with an ongoing capacity building program.”

Training in UgandaTraining sessions were held over a three-day period. Ellinger and Wick reviewed the history of U.S. and Bangladesh co-ops, drawing upon their extensive cooperative experience and work with NRECA International’s project in Bangladesh. Hill held sessions on understanding board governance and director’s duties and liabilities, while Mbiad hosted an Introduction to understanding electric cooperative operations, finances and member services.

Before the courses began, the group had an opportunity to visit one of the local co-ops. Although the ride was long and bumpy (much of the road winding along the side of a mountain), meeting with the co-op’s managers, board members, staff and member consumers was a good starting point for the training that took place the following week. 

“After the long journey, we found a very enthusiastic and energetic staff and board chairman,” said Hill.  “They have very little to work with and logistics are challenging, but they are so proud of what their cooperative has accomplished so far.”