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Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 656; doi:10.3390/su8070656

Building Sustainable Smallholder Cooperatives in Emerging Market Economies: Findings from a Five-Year Project in Kenya

Rural Policy Centre, Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK
Department of Rural Sociology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Land O’Lakes International Development, Shoreview, MN 55126, USA
Land O’Lakes International Development, P.O. Box 45006 G.P.O. 00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tan Yigitcanlar
Received: 16 April 2016 / Revised: 26 June 2016 / Accepted: 7 July 2016 / Published: 11 July 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [229 KB, uploaded 11 July 2016]


A comparative study of two smallholder dairy cooperatives in Kenya examines the question: what factors are conducive to producing sustainable smallholder cooperatives that can gain entry into the vertical value chain in liberalized post-colonial economies? The relative weight of income advantage; selective individual incentives and, social capital on maintaining member patronage are assessed within variable environmental constraints and opportunities facing different cooperatives. The methodology includes case study observation of the cooperatives during a five-year period, as well as sample surveys of members and non-members that include indicators of dairy income; reasons why farmers elect to join or not join the cooperative; and assessments of the importance of different services provided by the cooperative. The findings show how the relative weight of specific incentives for cooperative membership can vary from one environment to another within the same nation. The most important finding is that maintaining sustainable smallholder cooperatives within an increasingly competitive environment depends on the ability of managers to create business strategies that are compatible with the cooperative’s environmental constraints but, at the same time, incentivize members’ patronage. View Full-Text
Keywords: smallholder dairy cooperatives; Kenya; social capital; development; emerging economies smallholder dairy cooperatives; Kenya; social capital; development; emerging economies
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Meador, J.E.; O’Brien, D.J.; Cook, M.L.; Grothe, G.; Werner, L.; Diang’a, D.; Savoie, R.M. Building Sustainable Smallholder Cooperatives in Emerging Market Economies: Findings from a Five-Year Project in Kenya. Sustainability 2016, 8, 656.

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