Seminar: Introduction to Co-operative Development for Refugees and Local Communities

Categories: Hollings Highlights

A program that disseminated outcomes from the “Cooperators Without Borders” workshop was held on 26 September 2018 in Gaziantep, Turkey.  The workshop aimed to provide information on how to start cooperative business models for the economically marginalized.  The Center cosponsored the event with Youth Deal Cooperative.  The seminar, co-hosted by ILO, UNWomen, and ASAM, comprised two identical sessions in the morning and in the afternoon. The morning session was attended by 44 participants, most of whom were Syrian refugees. The afternoon session was attended by 51 participants comprised of both Syrian and Turkish participants.

In the seminar, the characteristics of the cooperatives, how cooperatives work and cooperatives’ universal principles were explained to participants by using participatory and interactive methods. Best practices in Turkey, in the Middle East and worldwide were illustrated through videos. In addition, Farah Salka’s and Mohammad Doueik’s experiences available on the website of the “Cooperators Without Borders” were also displayed to participants as two important models. In the last part of the sessions, Hiba Allaw, a social worker in Lebanon’s Ministry of Social Affairs and a member of Global Steps Association joined the seminar through video-call from Lebanon. Ms. Alaw explained two refugee empowerment projects funded by USAID and shares her experiences in Lebanon as a social worker to participants and answered their questions in Arabic.

The participants’ willingness to learn, their interest in the seminar, and in particular the questions they asked, showed us how positively they approached the cooperative idea. The workshop organizers hope to hold additional training sessions in 2019.