THE SEEDS FOR SOLUTION
The Seeds for Solution project initiated in 2014 is a partnership of GECPD and UNHCR seeking to improve household incomes, increase employment opportunities for graduates of vocational skills training programs and promote integration between Refugees, Asylum Seekers, IDPs and host communities in Galkayo. The project has brought together skilled women, girls and boys from IDPs, host community and RAS who work together in Cooperative groups based on their skills, to earn a living and contribute to efforts to build peace within their communities. The established Cooperatives have been supported to establish a Community Garment Production, distribution and sale centre for women and girl beneficiaries and a Carpentry and Welding Merchandise production, exhibition and sale centre for the boy beneficiaries. They produce merchandise through the production centers that is availed to the market for sale. Cooperative members are paid on wage basis based on the productivity of each individual. Proceeds from the items produced are ploughed back to the purchase of raw materials and meet other operation costs to ensure the sustainability of the project while the surplus is used to pay the cooperative members some bonuses. The project provides an opportunity for the targeted groups to practice the skills acquired through vocational skills trainings in GECPD and other programs as well as access gainful employment. GECPD mobilized the skilled women, girls and boys, facilitated and supported them through capacity building to form cooperatives in readiness for the establishment of production centers.
Formation of the Cooperatives
A total of two cooperatives have been formed-one for the skilled women and one for skilled boys. The cooperative formation process included taking the selected beneficiaries through capacity building sessions on the idea of cooperative and the existing legal framework. A lawyer was engaged to take and guide the beneficiaries through the legal framework aspects of the cooperatives. Since there is no legal framework currently guiding the cooperatives movement in Puntland and Somalia, the cooperative was formed on the basis of the Law no.40 of October 1973 on cooperative development in the Somali democratic republic. Members were engaged in developing their own by-laws based on the law and electing interim officials of their cooperative. Key issues of concern in the by-laws included the security of the cooperative assets and sharing of the income earned by the cooperative. The cooperatives have since been registered with the Galkayo Regional Court and legal entities with juridical power. The registered entities are Wadani Skilled Women and Girls Cooperative and Danwadag Skilled Boys Cooperative
The management structure of the established cooperatives includes a Board of Trustees (BoT) which helps in the running and management of the cooperative activities. While it was agreed that the project promotes ownership amongst beneficiaries, lack of proper legal and security systems to guarantee the safety of the cooperative assets and resolve disputes that may arise amongst cooperative members necessitated the formation of this group. The BoT comprises 9 members including;
- 2 Representatives from the Galkayo Municipal Council
- 3 Representatives of the Business Community
- 1 Representative of GECPD
- 1 Representative of UNHCR
- 2 Representatives of the project beneficiaries (Cooperative Members)
Besides helping resolve disputes and ensuring the safety of the machine, the BoT is also charged with the responsibility of advocating for the cooperative members in terms of accessing markets for their products, securing concessions including tax wavers from local authorities and government to enable their business grow.
The cooperatives also have management committees that include a Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Organizing Secretary.
Establishment of the Production Centers
The key aspect in the establishment of the production centers for both girls, women and boys was availability of premises from where the cooperatives could operate. While the Local Authorities had offered to provide a Community Center where the Girls and Women Cooperative could operate from, it was not possible after the committee managing the center declined to cooperate. GECPD stepped in and offered a part of its premises to host the girl’s women cooperatives operations. The area needed some refurbishments that have been done to make the premises suitable for hosting a production center. Refurbishments included expanding the room, repairing the roof, the floor, constructing a storage area, a toilet at a small canteen room. The facility which is in a strategic place is ready awaiting arrival of the arrival and installation of machines. GECPD has undertaken to host the girls until such a time that they will be able to acquire another premise where they can meet the rent charges.
The strategy under the boys cooperative involved renting an open space in a strategic location within time where semi permanent structures would be erected to house the workshop. Initially a parcel of land had been identified where the workshop was to be established. Although the lease terms were fair, the area was not very much strategic calling for the need to explore other available alternatives. Through advocacy of the BoT members, a well wisher (Al Fadli Trading Company) donated a parcel of land measuring 15 x 20 metres to house the workshop over a period of 2 years. A formal lease was developed between the land owner and the cooperative with GECPD as the trustee for deposit at the court.